The three founding organisations: Joint Commission International, PharmAccess Foundation and the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA)

In 2010 the PharmAccess Foundation of the Netherlands, the Joint Commission International (JCI) of the U.S.A and the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) held talks in Amsterdam to address the possibility of applying universal quality standards for clinics in developing countries. The discussion focused on creating standards that would provide a solid, secure and realistic framework to ensure that patients receive safe and optimal care despite resource constraints.

SafeCare is the resulting brainchild of these founder organizations and is built on their worldwide experience. It acts as the custodian of internationally recognized sets of standards covering the spectrum of basic healthcare for defined categories of providers, including: general practitioners, nurse- or clinical officer-driven health posts, mobile and semi-mobile facilities, primary care facilities, community health centers, primary health centers and district hospitals.

The three partners that founded SafeCare together present a long history in quality improvement, assurance and accreditation:

Joint Commission International – Based in Illinois, U.S.A, JCI is the international arm of The Joint Commission, the United States health care accreditation body. JCI has been working with health care organizations, ministries of health and global organizations in over 80 countries since 1994, and has accredited over 400 public and private health care organizations. Its focus is on improving the safety of patient care through the provision of accreditation and certification services as well as through advisory and educational services aimed at helping organizations implement practical and sustainable solutions. In June 2011, JCI received four-year accreditation by ISQua that provides assurance that the standards, training and processes used by JCI to survey the performance of health care organizations meet the highest international benchmarks for accreditation entities.

PharmAccess Foundation – Based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, PharmAccess has experience in over 30 countries in Africa in upgrading and quality improvement of basic healthcare providers such as clinics and district hospitals. PharmAccess' expertise particularly concentrates on early upgrading activities, including providing local assistance to providers with refurbishments, purchasing of bio-medical assets and building skills through interactive workshops. The upgrading process is monitored through a rigorous data collection and analysis system. In addition, PharmAccess improves the financial situation of health providers by introducing insurance programs for secured income on the demand side and business training on the supply side. This facilitates access to affordable financing for clinics, including loans and investments.

– Based in Cape Town, South Africa this organization is accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) as a competent healthcare evaluation body, and its standards are recognized as meeting the principles set out by ISQua. COHSASA has been working in the field of quality improvement and accreditation for over 15 years. During this time, COHSASA has worked in over 530 (different types of) facilities – from tertiary hospitals to basic clinics – in the public and private sectors in South Africa, the SADEC region and other parts of Africa. Countries in which programs are running include the RSA, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Rwanda and Nigeria.

Each organization brings to SafeCare a set of tried and tested instruments, skills, standards and methodologies that reinforce each other. The combination provides a comprehensive system to assist primary healthcare providers in resource-restricted settings to measure and improve their service delivery in terms of quality and safety. SafeCare introduces innovative tools, instruments and training modules to assist facilities on a journey that begins with the achievement of a minimal “safety core”, proceeds with manageable, incremental steps of quality improvement and may end in full accreditation. The philosophy that underpins the process is that of incremental steps towards excellence based on a set of specially defined and field-evaluated standards that are realistic for resource-restricted setting: one facility one step at a time.