Karachi (Muhammad Yasir) The Aga Khan Hospital for Women in Karimabad, Karachi and Aga Khan Maternal and Child Care Centre in Hyderabad, part of the Aga Khan University Hospitals (AKUH) network; and Aga Khan Medical Centre in Gilgit, part of the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) network, have become the first hospitals in Pakistan to receive the Level 5 SafeCare certification. Poor healthcare in low- and middle-income countries leads to millions of preventable deaths each year. However, these countries historically have a shortage of institutions that rate, improve and incentivize healthcare quality. This is the gap where SafeCare steps in to intervene and innovate. An initiative of PharmAccess, Joint Commission International (JCI), and Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA), SafeCare is a methodology with international accredited standards, aiming to improve quality care in low- and middle income countries, where 3.6 million people die every year because of low quality care. Level 5 status is given to institutions that demonstrate high-quality standards across the SafeCare Service Elements. “SafeCare certification is an endorsement that a health facility has met certain internationally recognized quality and safety standards for patient care,” said Dr Farhat Abbas, interim Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan University (AKU) Health Services in Pakistan. “In addition to the SafeCare certification, AKUH is also accredited by JCI, and its clinical laboratories are accredited by the College of American Pathologists for fast and accurate testing. These accreditations are a true testament to the high-quality of healthcare and patient safety we provide.” The French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children (FMIC) in Kabul has also become the first hospital in Afghanistan to receive the SafeCare certification. The facility is managed by AKU. Speaking on what it means to receive the accreditation, Syed Nadeem Husain Abbas, Chief Executive Officer of AKHS, Pakistan commented, “We are very excited about receiving the SafeCare certification, as it brings us one step closer to the level of excellence in healthcare that we believe our communities need and which we aspire to deliver. Our aim now is to take the quality of our health services to the next level and to inspire other hospitals and medical centres in Pakistan to do the same.” AKU and AKHS, both agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), work hand-in-hand to deliver high-quality health services across Pakistan. In addition to the main hospital in Karachi, AKU operates four secondary hospitals, as well as 290+ clinical laboratories and medical centres throughout the country. To further extend this network, AKHS operates 113 health facilities, including two comprehensive medical centres, across Pakistan. “We are committed to providing patient safety and quality healthcare. With the addition of four hospitals in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the number of SafeCare-certified facilities in the AKDN health system has reached 38, including 34 medical centres in Kenya and Tanzania,” said Dr Zeenat Sulaiman, Global Head of Quality, Clinical Programmes and Projects at AKHS. PharmAccess CEO Nicole Spieker welcomed the newly SafeCare-certified hospitals in Pakistan and Afghanistan. “For better patient care and safety, PharmAccess will continue to expand and scale its SafeCare programme to support healthcare facilities offering primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare in different regions. The Aga Khan hospitals have demonstrated that with dedication, quality of care is possible everywhere,” she said. Dr Mairaj Shah, Chief Operating Officer of AKUH Secondary Hospitals thanked the PharmAccess’ quality team for working and supporting the hospitals throughout the certification process.