The idea of the Step-wise Accreditation Programme was born in 2009, when accreditation was identified by the AfSBT Board of Directors as a practical, methodical way through which the development of blood services in Africa could be directed, monitored and measured. Because of the diverse standard of the blood transfusion facilities across the continent, it was decided to utilize a “step-wise” approach, which is quite a novel concept in accreditation circles in which an “all or nothing” approach is the norm. Under this step-wise system three steps were created as follows:
Step 1: Certification: meeting minimum (basic) quality and operational requirements
Step 2: Certification: meeting intermediate quality and operational requirements
Step 3: Full accreditation: meeting quality and operational requirements at international standard
An international group of AfSBT quality experts was appointed to an AfSBT Accreditation Committee to help develop the standards. From this group, a core of selected members later worked with a highly experienced team from AABB (previously known as the American Association of Blood Banks) to complete the development of all the Standards-related documentation against which accreditation assessments would be conducted. These Standards are based on accepted international requirements, but are adapted to the uniqueness of the African environment.
Additionally, for each standard, when feasible, three increasingly stringent requirements for meeting the standard were developed and assigned to the three Steps.
This Step-wise approach allows the AfSBT Accreditation Programme to provide a mechanism for organizations involved in the field of blood transfusion at virtually any stage of development to assure themselves that their organisation meets appropriate standards of quality and safety and to demonstrate this to their Departments of Health, funders and any other stakeholders. Additionally it provides a structured and organised development path for organizations at Step 1 or Step 2 to move towards a high international standard.