It is a legal requirement that both public and private health facilities are licensed with the Health Professions Council of Zambia (HPCZ), this is in line with Health Professions Act No. 24 of 2009 of the Laws of Zambia. The licensing and Accreditation department draws its mandate from Parts V and VI of the HPCZ Act No. 24 of 2009 of the Laws of Zambia.
- Section 36 (1) a person shall not operate a health facility without a license issued in accordance with this Act.
- Section 59 (1) a health facility shall where a health care is subject to accreditation, not provide that health care service or hold out as providing that health care service without obtaining accreditation from the Council.
Core functions of the department
The functions of the department include the following:Licensing of Health Facilities
Accreditations of Health Services
The department achieves this by regularly conducting various inspections of health facilities to ensure that they meet and maintain the health care standards. By so doing, the Council ensures that health facilities maintain appropriate practice standards that are consistent with promoting compliance in health care standards, and this entails that the public has equity of access to quality health care services. The Council also promotes and enforces internationally comparable health practice standards in Zambia.
There are two types of accreditation
- Full accreditation: Section 55 (1) provides that the Council shall grant full accreditation to a facility that meets the accreditation requirements. The certificate is valid for a period of one year.
- Provisional accreditation: Section 55 (2) provides that the Council shall grant provisional accreditation to a facility that is not in conformity with accreditation requirements but demonstrates reasonable progress towards full accreditation and is able to safely provide the accredited service in its current condition. The certificate is valid for a period not exceeding one year.
Types of Inspections
The Council monitors and controls the quality of health services in both private and public facilities through conducting various inspections. The three (3) types of inspections conducted are:
- Initial inspection: This is an inspection where the health facilities applies for a license or accreditation of health services for the first time or are adding additional health services. Section 47 (3) provides that inspection will be conducted prior to issuance license and at least every twenty-four months thereafter the issuance of the license.
- Compliance inspection: This inspection is carried out to ensure the facilities adhere to the set National Health Care Standards. (NHCS) Section 47 (3) provides that compliance inspection conducted by the Council at least every twenty-four months thereafter the issuance of the license.
- Reactive inspection:This is conducted in response to complaints by the public of any alleged violations of the HPCZ Act or the Council notices a trend while undertaking compliance inspections. Section 48 (1) provides that an inspector may by authorization made under the hand of the Registrar, at all reasonable times enter and inspect premises that are being used or which the inspector has reasonable cause to believe are being used as a health facility.
Outcomes of inspection
When an inspection has been conducted, the following are the possible outcomes depending on what was found at the health facility.
- Issuance of License: Section 38 (1) provides that he Council shall, where a facility meets the requirements of the Act, issue the applicant with the license according to the class applied for.
- Refusal to issue license: Section 39 (1) provides that the Council shall reject an application to operate a facility if the facility does not meet the provisions of the Act and requirements of the class applied for.
- Suspension or cancellation of license: Section 46 (1) provides the Council may suspend or cancel a license if the holders contravene the provision of the Act, or any terms and condition of the license. Suspension and or cancellation can result in either
a) Immediate closure of the facility; this occurs when
- The health facility presents danger of imminent harm to patients
- The health facility is not licensed under this Act
- The health facility contravenes the provisions of this Act or any other Law
b)Issuance of notice of intension to close
- The health facility is not in compliance with the requirements of the health facility’s license
- The health facility is offering services in excess of those permitted to a license of the facility’s class
Renewal of licenses and accreditation certificates
All health facilities are required to renew their license to operate a health facility annually. Section 38 sub-sections 3 provide that a license issued shall be renewed annually. Section 57(1) provides that an accreditation granted may be renewed annually.