Patient safety

African Partnerships for Patient Safety (APPS):
A channel for action in Africa

African Partnerships for Patient Safety (APPS) is a WHO Patient Safety programme that has been driven by African political commitment. APPS responds to this regional political commitment and is focused on translating policy into action in African health systems. It is concerned with catalyzing change and aims to act as a channel for action on patient safety through use of a unique partnership model. This partnership model provides a work structure based on human interactions that allow sharing and adaptability, hence the strong likelihood of each partner achieving their mission and of amplifying mutual successes.

Through working with the six first wave partnerships, APPS has co-developed a 6-step approach to patient safety improvement using a partnership model. This spans partnership development, systematic needs assessment, gap analysis, action planning, implementation and evaluation. The focus is on continuously learning from experience and adapting to the local context within which activities are being implemented. For instance, Cameroonian realities are clearly distinct from those in Uganda.

APPS has resulted in focused patient safety action at Gondar Hospital, Ethiopia, through a partnership with University Hospitals Leicester, UK. A structured patient safety situational analysis is the foundation of all activities. We have created a passionate patient safety team at Gondar, with individuals leading specific patient safe action areas, such as the prevention of health care-associated infection and improving the safety of surgical care. Hospital staff have been trained on patient safety concepts, with a particular focus on infection prevention and control. Our partners from Leicester have been critical in this process. We have faced many challenges together, but achieved gains in a short time – in fact the patient safety approach at Gondar has been used by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in hospitals across the country through the development of training manuals and materials.

Dr Gashaw Messele Getahun, Gondar Hospital, Ethiopia, APPS Focal Point.

Each of the 6 steps is supported by a range of APPS resources. These will be used by a second wave of APPS partnerships starting in the next few months, allowing further refinement of the approach. The patient safety resources will subsequently be made available for open use by any African health-care institution in their improvement journey.

The APPS programme provides an umbrella for WHO Patient Safety under which the patient safety movement in Africa can progress rapidly. APPS will continue to catalyze improvements in patient safety through the use of partnerships and to facilitate the spread of patient safety improvements across and between countries.

As a first wave APPS partnership, we have been particularly honored to shape the programme from the beginning. This has led to many challenges but has taught us that it’s important to learn and do at the same time. The patient safety partnership has reinforced the importance of carefully considering the context of our patient safety work and we have tried hard to look at improvement across the whole system of the hospital. We have taken small concrete steps that have resulted in important improvements that we hope to build on through our partnership.

Sandra Kemp, University Hospitals of Leicester, UK, APPS Focal Point