Health Ministry focuses on quality services

Tujoromajo Kasuto

Efforts to improve the quality of health care services provided by the Ministry of Health started as early as 1993, shortly after the country gained independence in 1990.

The Minister of Health and Social Service, Dr Kalumbi Shangula said today at the launch of the National Quality Management Policy, the National Quality Management Strategic Plan, the Hospital Quality Standards, and the Primary Facilities Quality Standards that the improvement of the quality of services has remained a top priority for the ministry ever since.

“The Government of the Republic of Namibia, through its various policies, has prioritized access to, and provision of quality health care and social services to the Namibian population,” he emphasised.

Shangula stated resilient health services require quality as a foundation and the success and value of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) depend on its ability to provide safe, efficient, and good-quality services to all people, everywhere when required.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that high quality essential health services are vital to the nation’s health security. Renewed focus on the quality of health services will position Namibia to respond effectively to this crisis, recover from it, and be better prepared for future public health threats and events, the minister said.

The policies aimed at improving the quality of services have been developed to guide efforts by the Ministry to achieve its vision of being the leading provider of quality health care and social services according to international standards.

The quality policy and standards development were largely informed by the various quality of healthcare systems assessment and the WHO handbook for National Quality Policy and Strategy (NQPS).

The Quality Policy is aligned with the broader Ministerial Strategic Plans, the National Development Plan (NDP) and Vision 2030. The goal of the Quality Policy is to ensure that provision of quality health care services is a fundamental principle of the health care delivery system in Namibia, while the overall objective is to improve the quality of health care in both the public and private sectors by using available resources efficiently.

The policy will therefore pursue the following dimensions of quality, accessibility, affordability, effectiveness, efficiency, safety, people-centeredness, timeliness, equitability and integrated health care services. The high-level strategies to implement this policy will include improving quality management systems, engaging and empowering patients, families, and communities, improving patient and healthcare

worker safety and improving clinical practice.

The National Quality Management Policy provides a common framework for all public and private health care institutions, partners, and stakeholders to plan, mobilize resources, coordinate, implement, monitor and evaluate the quality of health care services.

During the development of this policy, consultations were held with key stakeholders from the Ministry, development partners, relevant institutions, health service consumers and the private sector, to ensure that the policy development process was highly consultative, participatory, and transparent.

The key stakeholders responsible for implementing the policy include training and research institutions, professional bodies and societies, partners including the private sector, parastatals, health care professionals, consumers, and patient organizations.

The Ministry, together with development partners and stakeholders, will mobilize the necessary resources, including human, material, and financial, to support the implementation of the policy.

Charles Sagoe-Moses, WHO Representative at the launch estimated that between 5.7 and 8.4 million deaths are attributed to poor quality care each year in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which represents up to 15% of overall deaths in these countries.

Sixty per cent of deaths in LMICs from conditions requiring health care occur due to poor quality care, whereas the remaining deaths result from non-utilization of the health system.

Additionally, he notes inadequate quality of care imposes costs of US$ 1.4 to 1.6 trillion US dollars each year in lost productivity in LMICs. In high-income countries, 1 in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care, and 7 in every 100 hospitalized patients can expect to acquire a health care-associated infection.

It has been estimated that high quality health systems could prevent 2.5 million deaths from cardiovascular disease, 900 000 deaths from tuberculosis, one million new-born deaths and half of all maternal deaths each year.
WHO urges countries to prioritize quality of care improvements in their health care system and makes recommendations to guide the development of national policy and strategy on quality of care.

By Observer