Quality and Patient Care takes centre stage at Africa Health Conference

Upwards of 5000 health professionals and 200 international and regional companies have registered for this year’s Africa Health Conference, which got underway today (Monday).

The largest health conference in Africa, this online event  brings Africa’s healthcare industry together to discuss and explore innovative new thinking and solutions around Africa’s healthcare challenges.

Now in its 10th year, the event includes several multi-specialty conferences with CPD accreditation that provide valuable education and the latest updates in the medical field, as well as an opportunity for vibrant, highly targeted industry networking.

The event also provides a platform for healthcare professionals and decision-makers to do business, exchange ideas and learn about the latest product advancements from key industry players. It is expected that this year’s digitised conference will provide for more meaningful meetings and enable more efficient use of delegates’ time.

The fragile health systems of Sub-Saharan Africa have borne the brunt of the strain placed on them by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Coupled with the region bearing 25% of the global disease burden and served by just 2% of the world’s healthcare workforce, this means the need for resilient, high quality accessible healthcare in Africa has never been more urgent if the continent is to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of Universal Health Care by 2030.

Quality & Patient Safety in Africa – with lessons from COVID-19 was a key theme for day one of the event. In partnership with the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA), the Quality Management and Patient Safety conference saw industry leaders, including Dr Gilbert Buckle, Executive Director at the Africa Institute of Healthcare, Quality, Safety and Accreditation (AfIHQSA) in Ghana and Dr Lydia Okutoyi, HOD of Patient safety and Quality Health Care at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya, address ways to bridge the quality improvement gap, and find quick wins for driving safety & quality measures.

The panel, facilitated by CEO of COHSASA, Jacqui Stewart, also addressed health system resilience with a special emphasis on COVID-19 front-line resiliency, and the lessons learned during the pandemic.

Speaking on the need for quality standards to be entrenched in policy, Stewart said that a sound safety standards and assessments methodology can build trust between stakeholders and pave the way for reliable nation-wide quality monitoring systems. ”Policy shifts towards equality, accountability, and quality improvement should be prioritised”, she said.

A compelling discussion titled ‘What is happening in Africa – An overview of interventions and strategies to bridge the quality improvement gap at the frontline in sub-Saharan Africa’ was facilitated by Dr Ruthpearl Ng’ang’a, Policy Engagement and Communications Manager at The African Population and Health Research Center.

Ng’ang’a introduced the session, expressing her conviction that healthcare quality improvements are the most crucial tool in ensuring the safety, capacity and resilience of our systems’ often highly-pressured frontline HWCs.

She remarked that hospitals in Africa have partnered to share learnings during COVID-19, as care facilities were forced to rethink HCW deployment, as well as HCW safety. She cited some innovative strategies.

“Some hospitals set up text message-based response systems. One facility completely retooled patient flow, creating a new track for respiratory cases, and another separate track to protect patients who needed care but who did not present with COVID-19 symptoms”, she said.

Dr Mary Adam, Physician, Paediatrician, and Head of Research at AIC Kijabe Maternal Newborn Community Health Centre in Nairobi, spoke about the relationship between Quality Assurance (QA), and Quality Improvement (QI).

“Achieving quality improvements at the frontline and upskilling frontline HWCs with the skill-set and understanding to affect positive change takes passion and commitment”, she said.

In the second key theme for day one, ‘Improving obstetric care in Africa – breaking down barriers’, experts, including renowned obstetrician and scholar Professor Salome Maswime, who is an obstetrician, Gynaecologist and Professor of Global Surgery at the University of Cape Town in South Africadiscussed solutions to the barriers barring access to quality obstetric care that many women on the continent face.

The Clinical & Biomedical Engineering Conference, saw clinical engineering heavyweights like Dr Sudesh Sivarasu, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Cape Town engage with biomedical experts from across the continent on the need for Optimisation of medical device innovation, acquisition, and utilisation for UHC. Other topics included the WHO’s integrated Medical Device Information System, The MeDevIS Platform, as well as the complementary roles of biomedical engineering, clinical engineering, and health technology assessment.

Day 2’s themes include Laboratory Medicine, Emergency Medical Services (EMsS), and Healthcare Management. the events promise to deliver valuable insights and industry trends to advance your knowledge and gain new ideas.

Registration for this prestigious event is free.

Visit: www.africahealthexhibition.com/en/home.html

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