Last month, officials from 13 African countries launched a global initiative to work with the WHO to standardize medical laboratories using a 5-step accreditation process established by the WHO-AFRO. (This initiative is being sponsored by the Clinton Foundation and the American Society for Clinical Pathology).
Why should an organization invest the time and resources to obtain accreditation? Take a hospital as an example – accreditation bolsters an institution in many ways. It brings credibility to both patients and investors, it demonstrates a higher quality of care, reduces medical errors by improving processes and it allows the institution to recruit better quality providers (nurses, physicians, administrators etc.) . Even the process of preparing for accreditation allows an organization to reflect on it’s processes resulting in efficiency, transparency and accountability.
Where hospitals in the US are accredited by JCAHO, there exists an international arm of this organization called the JCI (Joint Commission International) allowing international organizations to apply for accreditation. The only problem is that the process itself is so arduous that for hospitals short on resources, it’s very difficult to allocate resources to go through this process.
That’s why I found it encouraging to see that the WHO, together with the Clinton Foundation and other partners, are working to create alternative, simplified process for accreditation of medical laboratories. If this works, I hope such models are created for both hospitals and medical education institutions as well.