Since the nineteen seventies, quality of health care has become an important topic for discussion and action in the health care systems all over the world.
In every country today, the capacity of the health care system is challenged. Technological advances offer new drugs, procedures, devices and diagnostic tests that promise improved health. The global concern is how to assure the quality of care while limited resources are used wisely. An especially important challenge in the current condition of Lebanon's health care is to carry out an evaluation of both the health status of the people and the functioning of health care services.
Most countries have nowadays some action going in the ever-expanding field of healthcare quality improvement. One approach that is gaining acceptance around the world is accreditation. Besides its basic purpose of assessing hospitals' compliance with standards, it could play an educative, consultative and informative role, and act as a bridge between the various stakeholders that provides a platform for continued dialogue.
As part of the health reform agenda, the Ministry of Public Health has taken the initiative to address quality management in all its dimensions by driving and supporting the establishment of an accreditation system for hospitals.
To this end, a consultant, Overseas Projects Corporation of Victoria (Australia), was contracted to complete an accreditation manual for acute hospitals in Lebanon. The Health Sector Rehabilitation Project, financed by a loan from the World Bank, supported and supervised this project.
The Manual has been locally developed with the pilot survey hospitals and other major stakeholders, and serves as the first step in the evolution of hospital accreditation in Lebanon. It is expected that all hospitals will be surveyed against the Manual in 2001-2002.
I commend this first edition of the Manual to all acute hospitals, as it signals the way ahead for the accreditation of hospitals, based on quality assurance and quality improvement in patient care.
This language of health care quality measurement and improvement will be continuously refined, improved and updated. Therefore, it is anticipated that the Manual will be reviewed on a regular basis to reflect the further development of Standards.
Accreditation Standards are always a "work in progress". In this spirit, we welcome constructive suggestions on their modification and improvement.
Quality cannot be an accident; it is always the result of high intentions, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives.
Providers and professionals in health care are the natural partners in quality improvement. Through accreditation, we can combine our efforts, in an innovative partnership, towards the achievement of a better health status for our people.