Cohsasa News

Clinical Management of Mediclinic Morningside receives Quality Award


Left: Jacqui Stewart with the Clinical Management Team of Mediclinic Morningside which constantly strives to drive clinical quality improvement. From left (front row): Sr Karuna Jamalooden, Sr Jean Erasmus, Sr Margaret Lidovho, Sr Kombi Katuta. From left to right back row: Sr Patricia Gcabashe, Sr Joanne Madeley, Sr Joanne van Rensburg, Sr Anna Matela and Sr Dudu Mabaso.

Right: COHSASA CEO, Jacqui Stewart (right) presents the Katrin Kleijnhans Quality Award to Sister Margaret Lidovho who heads up the Quality Improvement Programmes in the hospital. According to Mediclinic Morningside, Margaret provides leadership, guidance and excellence in her task to the Clinical Management team.


Proud members of the Mediclinic Morningside Clinical Management Team received the Katrin Kleijnhans Quality Trophy from the CEO of The Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa, Jacqui Stewart.

In presenting the award, Ms Stewart, said that it was an honour for her to present the award to the clinical management team personally. It is obvious that the team is committed to quality and works hard to maintain very high standards.

The Quality Trophy is awarded to an individual, a unit, a department or a discipline in a healthcare facility that has made the most impressive or substantial contribution to quality improvement during the COHSASA accreditation process. The recipient is not selected by COHSASA but is chosen by the facility management.

Hospital Manager, Richard Brett said that it was an easy decision to nominate the Clinical Management Team.

“This beautiful trophy, with its shape echoing the COHSASA logo, honours the memory of our COHSASA colleague, Dr Katrin Kleijnhans, who died on September 28, 2016 after a long illness. It is intended that the trophy carry forward her legacy and encourage others to share her enormous passion for ensuring quality and safety in health care.

“We hope that after its initial presentation, the trophy will become an annual internal floating trophy, and will encourage others to strive for excellence,” she said.


For more information: Marilyn Keegan @ or Mobile: 083 703 7789

COHSASA appoints quality advisor/surveyor

Dr Boitumelo Kosi

Recently appointed as a Quality Advisor/ surveyor, Dr Biotumelo (Tumi) Kosi admits that her life has changed dramatically since she joined COHSASA.

“I see things differently,” she says. As a young intern working at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in the Eastern Cape she was so focused on the clinical aspects of her work with patients that she rarely had an opportunity to get to know, see or experience many of the departments in the hospital.

“Through COHSASA and attending surveys, I have now become aware of a complete picture. One begins to see a hospital as an active, operating organism with a life of its own. I now have a truly comprehensive understanding of how hospitals function. 

“I have also found that working in the field of quality improvement is changing my mindset: I am beginning to apply the principles of QI in my own life. I work out solutions to problems in my everyday life!”

Obtaining her MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2010, Tumi completed her internship working rotations through paediatrics, internal medicine, general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and completing three months of family medicine. This entailed primary health care, anaesthesia, accident and emergencies and orthopaedics. She was responsible for the clinical management of a wide spectrum of patients, including those with TB and HIV and she also assisted in theatre cases – particularly Caesarean Sections.

She moved back to Cape Town to complete her Community Service year at a primary health clinic with the Department of Health in the Western Cape. Here she encountered the full range of illness including chronic and sub-acute conditions.

After her Community Service year, from 2014-2017, Tumi became a Registrar with the National Health Laboratory Service where she prepared specimens and conducted microscopic examination and diagnosis of haematoxylin and eosin stains (H&E stains) in tissue. She worked in a team to conduct cytological examination of gynaecological and non-gynaecological specimens and gave academic presentations. She also taught medical students.

Before and after her Registrar contract, Tumi also worked at a private facility, Ikhaya Lempilo (a Xhosa word that means “house of wellness”). Here she treated a vast array of patients, many with HIV and TB.

It was while she was employed in the public sector that Tumi had to come face-to-face with the harsh reality that many young doctors working in the South African public sector must endure. While she loved her work, she found the conditions extremely stressful. The patient loads are often unrealistic and burnout is not uncommon.

“At times, I was overwhelmed and I decided that I needed a change from clinical care. Many doctors in the South African public system find that the conditions are difficult and they leave the country. I don’t want to do that – I will go overseas at some stage but I will bring any expertise I gain there back to South Africa.”

She hopes to bring her sharp analytical skills to the COHSASA table. “I tend to analyse things and I have a very strong inborn sense of risk assessment and prevention before there is a calamity! I would like to invest these skills in creating safe care for patients.

“Since I joined COHSASA I have become more interested in the legal aspects of medicine and the role of human rights in patient care.”

What lies in the future for Tumi?

“I hope to travel overseas in future. I would love to work in the UK and gain experience in the NHS. Then I want to return to South Africa and implement what I have learnt overseas to benefit the local population.

In the meantime, she will indulge in her favourite pastimes – walking and reading.

Welcome Tumi!

COHSASA appoints new Board Members, changes in leadership

COHSASA welcomed three new Board Members at its quarterly May 2017 meeting to take the vision and mission of the organisation forward. There was also a change of leadership at the top of the Board. Ms Sharon Slabbert has been appointed Chairperson of the Board with Professor Gert van Zyl as vice-Chair.

The Board thanked Professor Erwin Schwella for his many years of excellent leadership as former Chair of the Board. Professor Schwella, appointed as Chairperson in 2014, is taking up a full professorship at the School of Governance at Tilburg University, Netherlands.

Wishing Professor Schwella the very best for the future, CEO of COHSASA, Jacqui Stewart remarked: “It was particularly noted how much the Board appreciated your ‘out of the box’ and strategic thinking which has proved invaluable at the annual strategic planning meeting.”



From left (above): Former COHSASA Chairperson, Professor Erwin Schwella, new COHSASA Chairperson, Sharon Slabbert and new Vice-Chair Professor Gert van Zyl.

Sharon Slabbert, a key figure in health care in South Africa, is the Executive officer; Health service delivery at the Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA). She has been involved in matters related to quality, private hospital management and nursing in the South African health industry for many years.

Professor Gert van Zyl, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State and a previous member of the Board of the Office of Health Standards Compliance is an Inaugural Fellow of the Association of Medical Education Europe and President of the SA Association of Health Educationalists.

A renowned researcher, Prof Van Zyl has served and is serving on several medical and dental board committees and on the Health Professions Council of South Africa. His passion for quality clinical health service delivery makes him an excellent appointment to this position.


The new Board Members are (from left above): Mrs Madelein Mkunu, Professor Ethelwynn Stellenberg and Dr Sibusiso Zuma.

Commenting on the appointment of the new directors, CEO of COHSASA Jacqui Stewart said: “I am delighted to welcome our three new Board members.  They have a wealth of experience  and expertise and bring very diverse skill sets to the Board.”

New Chairman of the Board, Sharon Slabbert said: “I welcome with delight the new board members with their diverse areas of expertise and experience and I look forward to many years of mutual benefit as we work towards improving quality in healthcare facilities all over Africa.”

Mrs Madelein Mkunu, an accountant by profession, is the founder and President of Leading Women of Africa and Director of LWA-Corporate Investment, a firm that aims to increase the number of women involved in investment, international trade and other services on the continent. She is a Professional Fellow with the U.S. Department of State at Michigan State University on women economic empowerment, strengthening leadership capacity and professional skills.

Passionate about leadership, Mrs Mkunu believes that her appointment to the Board of COHSASA will contibute in adding leadership support to COHSASA clients from around Africa.

Professor Ethelwynn Stellenberg is one of South Africa's most accomplished professional nurses. She is the Associate Professor of Nursing at Stellenbosch University, overseeing advanced degrees in nursing and teaches risk management to post graduate students in the Nursing Management and Health Services Programme. She was Head of Reseach for a number of years, currently she is the Head of Quality Management and Regulation in the Department of Nursing and Midwifery. She has played a significant role in the advanced educuation of South African nurses. She is a ministerial re-appointee for a second term of office to the Board for the Office of Health Standards Compliance. In addition to serving on the Board she also serves as Chairperson of the Human Relations and Remuneration committee as well as serving on the Enforcement and Certification Committee. Professor Stellenberg's appointment will continue to contibute boldly and fearlessly to safe quality patient care.

Dr Sibusiso Zuma is a technnical advisor on primary health care at FHI 360 focusing on quality improvement and achievement of Ideal Clinic status. He has many years of experience as a Senior Manager of clinical quality in three of South African provinces and holds several degrees in the field of health studies, including a Doctorate of Philosophy and Literature in Health Studies.

Dr Zuma has a wide range of knowledge on managing and monitoring health standards compliance and overseeing quality improvement programmes. About his appointment to the COHSASA Board he said, “ I believe my appointment to the Board  will contribute towards increasing the footprint of COHSASA  in both public and private sectors  with a special focus on the primary health care services .”

SafeCare standards re-accredited by ISQua





Press contacts:

Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa

Marilyn Keegan
Phone: +21 531 4225


Joint Commission International

Elizabeth Eaken Zhani

Phone +1 630 792 5914


PharmAccess Foundation

Laurens Pels
Phone: +31 20 566 1577


SafeCare standards re-accredited by ISQua


(Amsterdam/Cape Town/Chicago – March 7, 2017) In sub-Saharan Africa, many health care clinics do not have the resources provide safe and effective care—resources such as a consistent supply of medication or the infrastructure to keep patient records safe and secure. SafeCare provides these clinics an option to improve care for their patients with quality improvement standards they can comply with even under restricted conditions.


SafeCare standards cover a full range of clinical services and management functions, as well as infrastructural aspects and ancillary services–for example, kitchen, cleaning and laundry services. This enables a holistic view of all the components required for safe and efficient provision of health care services.


The third edition of SafeCare standards has been re-accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua). ISQua is a global organization responsible for assessing the standards of organizations that set the benchmarks in health care safety and quality. 


SafeCare is a multinational nonprofit foundation and a collaboration of PharmAccess in the Netherlands; Joint Commission International (JCI) in the United States; and the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) in South Africa. Currently, 1,899 clinics in five sub-Saharan countries, with an average of 2.2 million patient visits each month, are participating in the SafeCare quality improvement program.

Most importantly, 78 percent of clinics that participate in the SafeCare program have shown improvement in compliance with the SafeCare standards on a follow-up visit.


The re-accreditation by ISQua recognizes the quality of the updated standards, which ISQua first approved in 2013. The standards have been revised since then to incorporate knowledge learned from the health care providers implementing them in the field – as well as clarify the scoring methodology.


SafeCare’s standards are the only ISQua-accredited clinical standards tailor-made for resource-restricted settings. The SafeCare standards and certification methodology combines the respective knowledge, expertise, skills, tools and experience of all three member organisations – to issue a graded “Certificate of Improvement” to different categories of health care facilities ranging from nurse-driven health clinics to district hospitals.


“Maintaining ISQua accreditation for the standards is integral to the quality of the SafeCare brand,” said Nicole Spieker, Director of Quality at PharmAccess. “It provides validation for patients, health care providers, governments, and donors in the level of care provided at SafeCare certified organizations. These standards have resulted in better quality care for millions of patients across the African continent.”


Paula Wilson, president and CEO, Joint Commission International, said, “All people deserve quality health care, and ISQua’s re-accreditation of the SafeCare standards is a clear recognition of SafeCare’s focus on continuous improvement. Regardless of a health care organization’s resource situation, we want them to meet the standards that can help them improve quality and protect their patients from harm.”


“The SafeCare standards enable clinics in resource poor settings to begin their quality journey with small steps and aspire to ultimately achieving accreditation,” said Jacqui Stewart, CEO, Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa.



About SafeCare

Learn more about SafeCare from doctors implementing the standards in their clinics:


About ISQua

ISQua is The International Society for Quality in Health Care. They are a global organisation and whose origins date back to 1985. Their mission is to inspire and drive improvement in the quality and safety of healthcare worldwide through education and knowledge sharing, external evaluation, supporting health systems and connecting people through global networks. Their international Accreditation Programme is responsible for assessing the standards of organizations who set the benchmarks in healthcare safety and quality and we are the only organization that specifically uses health and social care standards.


About PharmAccess

PharmAccess is a dynamic international organization with a digital agenda dedicated to connecting more people to better healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. PharmAccess leverages on the enormous potential of digitalization to revolutionize healthcare in Africa. In addition, it has developed a range of services for healthcare providers, including quality assessments (using the SafeCare methodology), loan application support (through the Medical Credit Fund) and training modules to help healthcare providers improve their business and clinical performance. PharmAccess works closely with leading local and international partners to increase trust throughout the health system, reduce risks, and pave the way for investments. Their specific approach to development has won prestigious international recognitions, including a G20 prize for innovative financing presented by U.S. President Obama and two Financial Times/IFC awards.


About Joint Commission International

Joint Commission International (JCI) was established in 1994 as a division of Joint Commission Resources, Inc. (JCR), a wholly controlled, nonprofit affiliate of The Joint Commission. Through international accreditation and certification, advisory services, publications and education programs, JCI extends The Joint Commission’s mission worldwide by helping improve the quality of patient care. JCI works with international health care organizations, public health agencies, health ministries and others in more than 100 countries. Visit for more information.


Based in Cape Town, South Africa, COHSASA is the only accreditation body for healthcare in Africa that is internationally accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) as a competent healthcare evaluation body and its standards are recognised as meeting the principles set out by ISQua. COHSASA has been working in the field of quality improvement and accreditation for over 17 years. During this time, COHSASA has worked in a range of over 580 different types of facilities – from tertiary hospitals to basic clinics – in the public and private sectors in South Africa, the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region and other parts of Africa. Countries in which programs are running are the RSA, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Rwanda and Nigeria.

COHSASA to co-host ISQua 2019 conference in Cape Town!

In 2019 Cape Town will play host to what is regarded as the most prestigious of all conferences dealing with quality improvement and patient safety in health care.
Every year the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), which inspires, promotes and supports continuous improvement in the quality and safety of healthcare worldwide, holds a
conference somewhere in the world in October. This year it is in London. The Cape Town conference marks the first time in 30 years that it has been held in Africa. The conference will draw at least 1 500
delegates from some 70 countries.
The 36th annual ISQua conference, will be held at Cape Town’s International Conference Centre from October 20 – 23 in 2019.
Local healthcare facility accrediting body, The Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) successfully bid for the conference. ISQua has invited COHSASA to co-host the conference in Cape Town.
Says CEO of COHSASA, Jacqui Stewart, “COHSASA is delighted to be hosting the ISQua international conference in Cape Town, on behalf of Africa. We believe it will be a truly memorable event – an opportunity to showcase African innovation in quality and safety.”

A number of African ministries of health indicated their full support to hold the ISQua conference on the continent because it will prove an excellent opportunity to showcase what is being done in Africa.
For more information about the conference, see
Issued by Marilyn Keegan
Communications Manager of COHSASA
Mobile: 083703778

COHSASA staff choose their Employee of the Year

Nadine Joubert receives the COHSASA Employee of the Year Award for 2016 from CEO Jacqui Stewart (left). Nadine, who is the Databank/Helpdesk Supervisor for COHSASA was overwhelmingly chosen by her peers for the award. Among the reasons cited were her willingness to share knowledge, her patience in doing so, her efficiency and her inclination to teach others computer skills, particularly formatting of documents and polishing of presentations. She joined COHSASA in 2001 with a short break when she went to the U.K.



Quality champions in health care are rare individuals. COHSASA interviews one…

Jan Pienaar is what we at COHSASA like to call a “Quality Champion”. It means he knows what quality improvement in health is about, he knows how to implement it and he has been successful at it.

Take the history of his own quality improvement journey: he oversaw six successive COHSASA accreditation awards for the Anglo American Coal Highveld Hospital in eMalahleni (Witbank) as well as the hospital’s four satellite clinics. This journey started in 1997 and will continue until November 2018 making these institutions among the “most accredited” COHSASA facilities ever! So Pienaar is VERY serious and experienced when it comes to quality improvement in health care.

On the accreditation process itself, Pienaar believes that staff resistance issue is a real challenge. “People do not understand why it is important to invest in quality improvement initiatives. They don’t seem to understand that the costs of not doing it are so much higher.

“In the beginning many of the staff felt it was just so much paper and add-on to an already busy day. Paper means nothing unless it has an impact on the patient. But soon staff began to realise that they have to do the work anyway, and to do it right first time in the best possible manner saves time in the end.”

“I have always said and I will always say that if we did not have the COHSASA programme at Anglo American Coal Highveld Hospital and its clinics, they would have been closed long ago.”

Jan separated from Anglo American by mutual agreement as Regional Manager: Medical (Chief Medical Officer) at the end of December 2015 to pursue the eHealth product – theHealthSource (tHS), which he and his team had developed and maintained for the last 9 years for Anglo American and its stakeholders, as a business. Anglo American and those same stakeholders now remain long term clients of the new business.

tHS is a single patient electronic record system which has additional features to ensure the care pathway of a patient is maximally efficient from both a clinical and administrative perspective. tHS has been a major factor in Anglo American’s continued successes in meeting COHSASA’s stringent standards.

In a country like South Africa where patient care often flounders because patients cannot get transport to clinics or to fetch medicine, it is a system which makes so much sense that it is, in modern vernacular, “a no brainer”. Which makes it all the more mysterious why authorities are not queuing at the door to sign up. Perhaps, says Pienaar with weary cynicism “there might be advantages for some in carrying on with inefficiencies.”

Cost are contained

Using tHS system, he maintains, ensures a “longitudinal health benefit”: the costs of treating patients are contained; duplication of medical procedures is avoided; waste is drastically reduced; time is used to best advantage and appropriate resources are made available timeously. A concrete example: a medicine prescribed at hospital via the electronic record system can be dispensed in the town closest to the patient, thus avoiding expensive transport costs. And there are millions of similar cost-cutting, time-saving, clinical efficiency permutations.

“There is an accurate linking of all medical transactions to the single patient record. If a patient is travelling from A to B and he needs the records of Doctor Y to be made available to Dr Z, they are easily accessed from this system and the risks of clinical cross-wiring is reduced. In the same way, patients can also access X-rays – even the most complex and dense DICOM images can be accessed via a simple 3G connection through cutting edge image reduction techniques.”

Data from theHealthSource is hosted in a centrally hosted database and patients control access to their own records via a permissions’ restriction system. TheHealthSource is a live system so it shows patients moving through facilities in real time. There is a colour-coded triage system to manage waiting times and thus monitor queues. Another feature is that staff clock into the system so it is easy to monitor their arrival and departure times.

“Nurses used to arrive at 9.30 am – now they start at 8 am!”

 “I think this system - with its built in indicators – would provide instant and substantial proof – or otherwise – of compliance against standards and improved health outcomes. The data is research quality. Just for starters, it delivers accurate and quality patient records to avoid the blight of duplication!

“theHealthSource provides operational benefits which are both generic and sectional. For example, where the system has been used we have found that it saves costs, reduces medico-legal risks and enhances professional competence because clinicians have more information at their disposal. It actually becomes a clinical guidance tool. It is ICD10 code driven to create a standardised process.”


Facilitating the change

Pienaar and his team has created a programme which measures compliance against the new National Core Standards developed by the Office of Health Standards Compliance. This is the new arm of Government that aims to regulate health quality in the public sector.

“I believe we have a tool here that can facilitate the change we need in South Africa to ensure that health care in the public sector improves. This tool, coupled with the COHSASA standards and quality improvement programme would be an effective agent for change.”

Stewart appointed as Chief Executive Officer

Ms Jacqui Stewart has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) from April 1, 2016 having held the position as Interim CEO since the retirement of founder and former CEO Professor Stuart Whittaker last year.

Announcing the appointment of Ms Stewart, the Chair of the COHSASA Board, Erwin Schwella, Professor of Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University, said “I am sure that under her capable leadership and her commitment to COHSASA’s well-being, the Council will grow from strength to strength.” 

Ms Stewart’s track record, experience, knowledge and her proven ability had resulted in a unanimous decision by the Board to offer her the position.

She joined COHSASA as the Chief Operations Manager in 2005 from the National Health Service (NHS) University in England where she was the Interim Director of the Leadership, Management and Improvement School.

Prior to that she was the Director of Career Development and Succession Planning at the NHS Modernisation Agency, Leadership Centre. She has worked across a number of areas in the English NHS, including as director primary care development in East Kent Health Authority.  Ms Stewart completed her general nurse training in Cape Town and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Professional Studies in Health at Middlesex University.  

As the new leader of COHSASA, Ms. Stewart says she is committed to developing COHSASA into one of the organisations at the forefront of improving healthcare quality and patient safety not only in South Africa but beyond its borders.

“I want to expand our footprint across the continent and build on the great legacy left by Professor Whittaker. It is time for all citizens in Africa to have the benefits of safe, quality care and I am dedicated to ensure that COHSASA helps make this happen.”  

For more information, contact Marilyn Keegan @021 5314225 or 0837037789 or email


Slabbert becomes COHSASA vice-chair

The Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa NPC is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Deputy Chairperson, Sharon Slabbert (right) as from February 19, 2016.
Sharon Slabbert trained as a registered nurse and midwife and has worked in the private hospital industry for more than 30 years. During her tenure at the Hospital Association of South Africa as an Executive Officer: Health Service Delivery she has been involved in every aspect of hospital management with a particular emphasis on nursing and quality related matters. She is a past chairperson of the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) and has served on the COHSASA board since 19th August 2005, participating in the Technical Committee as well as the Standards Development Committee.
She has been part of many national activities related to quality and has been part of the working group developing Norms and Standards for the Office of Health Standards Compliance including participating in the pilot study as well as the accreditation of government hospitals and inspection of private hospitals for the issuing of Practice Code Numbers. She is the serving chairman of the Technical Committee on Intravenous Fluids at the South African Bureau of Standards.
Sharon has written numerous articles and presented at many conferences and workshops. She is a passionate patient advocate and remains a nurse at heart.
Commenting on her appointment she said, “I feel very honoured and privileged to have been appointed the Deputy Chairperson of COHSASA as I believe that the work COHSASA does makes a measurable difference to patients in all the countries where COHSASA is active. I believe that the current board is building on the legacy of excellence built up over the 20 years of COHSASA’s existence and footprint internationally and am looking  forward to being part of this continuing process of quality improvement and to the broadening of COHSASA’s role as an innovation hub on the forefront of service excellence.”
Further information from Marilyn Keegan at 021 532 4225 or 083 7037789

COHSASA celebrates its 20th birthday!

At the final Board Meeting for 2015, Board Members and Staff celebrated COHSASA’s 20th birthday. 
Champagne corks popped and a delicious three-tier cake (made by own Baking Queen, Mamela Nontshakaza) marked two decades of improving the quality and safety of healthcare in Africa.
Chair of the COHSASA Board, Professor Erwin Schwella, said it was very special to be celebrating 20  years of COHSASA as he was involved right at the beginning when the company ‘was born’ in 1995. 
“Many things have happened since then and COHSASA has spread beyond just southern Africa. The last few years have been quite tough but we are coming through that and look forward positively. Thanks to all the staff for their commitment and hard work.”
Interim CEO, Ms Jacqui Stewart, thanked the Board for their great support and echoed the thanks to staff.
The Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) was registered as a not-for-profit company in September 1995 by its founder, the now retired CEO, Professor Stuart Whittaker. 
Over the past 20 years, the COHSASA programme has changed substantially. The initial standards and database used as a point of departure in 1993 soon became unrecognisable as the programme developed to meet the needs of multiple stakeholders and standards were developed to meet the requirements of the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua). 
COHSASA itself, as an organisation, has now been accredited without interruption by ISQua four times (2002-2006; 2006-2010; 2010-2014; 2014-2018).


New Appointments to COHSASA's Technical Committee

Several new appointments have been made to the COHSASA Technical Committee, the formal body that reviews the external evaluation reports and decides on awards that, once ratified by the COHSASA Board, will be conferred on healthcare facilities.
The new Technical Committee members received induction at the COHSASA head-office recently. They will take up formal duty in 2016 when the latest batch of accreditation decisions have to be made.
Says Jacqui Stewart, COHSASA’s Interim CEO, “We want to ensure that we have a broad range of healthcare experts involved in the decisions about compliance levels of various facilities. I invited representation from several professional bodies and was delighted at the response I received.”
The new members will join the current members of the committee Prof Gert van Zyl, Prof Dion du Plessis, Prof Alan Pontin, Mrs Sharon Slabbert and Ms Esme Pudule.
Back Row from left:  Prof Daniel Kocks, Chairperson, SA Society for Occupational Medicine; Mrs Kathy Bodmer, Executive Member, SA Resuscitation Council; Mr Benjamin de Waal, Secretary, SA Emergency Care Society; Dr Solly Lison, Chairperson: Cape Western, SA Medical Association.
Front Row from left:  Dr Panjasaram (Vassie) Naidoo, Chairperson CPD, SA Pharmaceutical Council; Ms Esme Pudule, Quality Assurance Officer, HPCA; Ms Jacqui Stewart, Interim CEO of COHSASA; Prof Busisiwe Rosemary Bhengu, Chairperson, SA Nursing Council; Ms Amanda Louw, EXCO Member, SA Society of Radiographers.
Absent:  Prof James Roelofse, Chairperson, SA Society of Anaesthesiologists; Ms Michelle Osborne of the Western Cape Infection Control Society.


Quality advisor keen to further COHSASA’s mission

Dr Abigail van der Linde joined COHSASA Quality Adviser Team on December 1, 2015. She brings with her a solid commitment and dedication to ensuring that all people – regardless of age, race, income and health status – have the best possible healthcare available.

She is not naïve: she knows resources are limited but she believes that systemic improvement in healthcare facilities has the potential to positively impact the lives of others and she wants to be part of that.
“That is why I have joined COHSASA. I believe the company’s mission, vision and values align directly with my own. Nobody should be excluded from receiving safe and quality healthcare, particularly in South Africa. ”
Dr van der Linde, who grew up in Kimberly, has always wanted to be a doctor.  Her childish games usually involved a make-believe stethoscope and sutures in her teddy bear. Her parents are immensely proud of her achievement (she says she has “surprised” them) and they recall that from a very early age she had medicine in mind.
When Nelson Mandela visited Abigail’s school in her Grade 7 year, the pupils formed a guard of honour to greet him. He noticed her and asked her what her name was. 
“Oh,” said Mr Mandela, “and what do you want to be when you are grown up?”
“A doctor.”
“Good. Then I had better not get sick until you can heal me!”
Although she was an average pupil in primary school, she blossomed at high school and after earning a couple of distinctions in her Matric year, Abigail received a bursary to study for an MBChB at Stellenbosch University.
She completed this in 2009, followed by a two-year internship at the Kimberley Hospital Complex in the Northern Cape and a year of community service in a primary health care setting in a Department of Defence facility.
She returned to the Kimberley Hospital Complex and worked as Medical Officer in critical care and family medicine, finally making her way to anaesthetics.  Along the way, from 2011 to 2013, she collected a couple of diplomas: Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ADLS) and Advanced Trauma Life Support.
“I thought I might specialise in anaesthetics, having worked with an extremely impressive doctor, Philip Kenny, the Head of Department and Consultant in Anaesthetics at the Kimberley Hospital Complex.  I obtained a Diploma in Anaesthesia from the College of Anaesthetists of South Africa in 2014 while I worked at Tygerberg Hospital. After a few months, however, it became clear to me that my heart was not – as I had supposed – in anaesthetics.
“I have always been passionate about helping people and having an impact on lives. When I met a medical colleague who was working at COHSASA at the time, I was intrigued to hear about the work being done. It seemed interesting to me and I love to travel, even though I know the kind of travelling that Quality Advisers do for COHSASA is taxing in the extreme! But I was fascinated by changes that can be brought about through adhering to international standards. I love the idea of a hospital working as a well-oiled machine.
“In fact, I have always had a dream of setting up the perfect hospital, a “utopia” in a sad and neglected part of Africa. It is a vision that drives me. At this hospital, there would be the best possible equipment and technology which would be maintained according to world-class standards. Experts in all fields of medicine would be on the staff and they would treat their patients with dignity and respect. I want that vision realised.”
Emerging from an embattled public health system in South Africa, Abigail is even more determined to make a change; have an impact.
 “The COHSASA colleague advised me to hand in my CV. I forgot about it but was thrilled when I received a call to come in for an interview. And here I am.”
She will soon be leading a very busy life in Cape Town and travelling throughout Africa.
“Of course, I will miss my family – my Mom Dad and sister who live Kimberley. But I shall keep myself busy.”
She is a keen interior decorator (and has completed a short course in the subject) and delights in creativity, principally music and graphic art.
Abigail is a gentle woman who exudes compassion but there is a steely determination in her eye. She wants to make a difference.
“I want to heal people with love and then with medicine.”


COHSASA appoints new Board Member

COHSASA appoints new Board Member - Nicole Spieker, PhD

Dr Nicole Spieker, Director Quality of PharmAccess Foundation and Managing Director of SafeCare, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has been appointed to the COHSASA Board. Dr Spieker has worked closely with COHSASA over the past six years.

PharmAccess is a Dutch not-for-profit organization dedicated to the strengthening of health systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Working with local public and private partners, PharmAccess’ mission is to create access to affordable, quality healthcare for low income groups. This is achieved through the introduction of standards, the creation of health insurance systems, the provision of affordable loans to private clinics, medical and administrative capacity building, HIV/AIDS and healthcare workplace programs, and learning and analysis through operational research.

Dr Spieker is also the MD of the SafeCare Initiative, started in 2010 by the PharmAccess (Netherlands), the Joint Commission International (JCI, U.S.A) and COHSASA (South Africa). The SafeCare approach is based on internationally acknowledged (ISQua) quality standards and dissects the improvement process of healthcare providers in survey-able, measurable steps. Currently this programme is operational in four countries in over 1000 facilities with public and private sector partners.

Prior to this, Dr Spieker was Director of clinical support services at the Aga Khan Health Services, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she was responsible for developing and fostering effective collaboration between clinical support departments, medical staff leadership, faculty and other affiliated services to ensure an integrated approach to providing quality services, and fulfilling the hospital's diagnostic, clinical, research and educational goals and objectives. She holds a PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. About her appointment to the COHSASA Board, Dr Spieker says, “I look forward in my new role as board member of COHSASA to help achieve its mission of better and safer healthcare for African patients across the continent. I also look forward to working together with a great team of dedicated people!”


Slipper Day 2015

COHSASA staffers put their feet in it...

COHSASA staffers entered into the spirit of Reach for a Dream "Slipper Day" on August 7 when they all wore their fluffies to work for the day. It was all for a good cause with the bonus that wearing slippers created a comfortable, casual day which helped to build "kantoor" team spirit.

The fun had a serious purpose: For children with a life-threatening illnesses, the realisation of their dreams and their future is often clouded by uncertainty. Reach for a Dream helps inspire hope by turning a simple dream into a reality and fulfils the dreams of children between the ages of 3 and 18 years old who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. For more information, see