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Dec 21
Department of Health - Health Systems Trust partnership strengthens health systems in KwaZulu-Natal

By: Lunga Memela (Communication Engagement Lead)

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The Deputy Director-General for Health Services in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Mfowethu Zungu next to HST CEO, Dr Themba Moeti at a recent quality assurance, facility accreditation and licensing project progress briefing session.

The Deputy Director-General (DDG) for Health Services in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Mr Mfowethu Zungu, recently held a briefing session that was attended by the Health Systems Trust (HST) CEO, Dr Themba Moeti, in Ilembe Health District. The briefing highlighted the benefits of an ongoing quality assurance, facility accreditation and licensing project where HST has supported the provincial health department in the context of health systems strengthening for implementation of priority health programmes.

HST's Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) unit provides technical support to the Department of Health (DoH) through strategic use, analysis and distribution of information about health and related fields to enhance district-based services as well as health system performance, especially facilitating the scale-up of HIV and TB service delivery.

The DDG invited HST to a briefing attended by National Health Insurance (NHI) Support Project teams, together with the departmental NHI Unit team, where deliberations were held regarding the impressive progress made through the partnership in terms of quality assurance, facility accreditation and project licensing, and the application of technology to strengthen priority health programme efficiency and effectiveness.

The briefing reiterated that the primary objective of the NHI is to achieve universal access to quality healthcare services in South Africa, in accordance with Section 27 of the Constitution. This is based on the principle of social solidarity and where the comprehensive healthcare services provided by the NHI are bound by the philosophy of holistic approach to healthcare, spanning from preventative strategies all the way to convalescent and palliative care.

HST's support to the KZN's DoH has seen the successful implementation of a Synchronised National Communication in Health (SyNCH) system, which is improving access to medicines for patients with chronic diseases including HIV, TB and noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension supporting prescribing and monitoring of patient medicine parcel collection electronically, as enshrined in the health department's NHI pledge.

SyNCH enables online patient registration on the CCMDD (Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution) programme. It enables electronic submission of prescriptions to CCMDD service providers, scanning capability for medicine parcels issued to patients, and an automated reporting platform. The DoH now uses SyNCH for improving efficiency and management of the CCMDD programme.

DDG Zungu thanked HST for its unyielding support since the partnership's inception. In collaboration with the service provider, ASG Solutions, HST has effectively implemented and quality assured a performance management system and conducted standard operating procedure (SOP) training to the provincial NHI team. The highlights were presented at the briefing by the CEO of ASG Solutions, Dane Wilson, who said one of the most rewarding feelings of being part of the partnership is knowing that the work done is ultimately improving public health service delivery.

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ASG Solutions CEO, Dane Wilson. 

One of the highlights of the day was an early morning demonstration of how ASG Solutions, in partnership with HST and theDoH, and as part of application of information technology systems to strengthen programme delivery and improve patient access to health services has supported the implementation of an effective ambulance accreditation system at the health district level.

Discussions also included how to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) even better through innovation and strategic partnerships; taking advantage of digital platforms on e-Health; practical compliance with NHI regulations; the formalisation of work processes through SOPs; and managing and monitoring performance using transparent frameworks. Driving job satisfaction through innovation, the performance management system and on-time-monitoring and reporting was also covered.

Dr Moeti said although there is still a huge amount of work to be done, health systems strengthening is at the heart of the work done by HST in support of DoH initiatives. "To enable the programmes HST supports and to help build a stronger, more efficient and sustainable health service through appropriate deployment of technology inevitably enables the country to make progress towards its targets for HIV and TB service delivery and epidemic control, as well as improving universal access to quality health services," he said.

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HST CEO, Dr Themba Moeti. 

Dr Moeti said the long-term sustainability of programme investments is critical, and therefore health systems strengthening and quality improvement efforts need to take advantage of technology and its application. He applauded the DDG and his team for excellent work done and targets met. He said, amongst other TB and HIV service delivery targets, reaching the 95-95-95 targets for HIV and TB epidemic control, as part of the global effort to end the AIDS pandemic by 2030 required effective leveraging of programme investments towards health systems strengthening.

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