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Steve Biko the first hospital in SA to receive top award in stroke care

Diamond Status for stroke management by the World Stroke Organisation

Mpho Koka Journalist
Steve Biko Academic Hospital has been named the first healthcare institution to receive a top award in stroke care.
Steve Biko Academic Hospital has been named the first healthcare institution to receive a top award in stroke care.
Image: 123RF/HXDBZXY

The Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria has become the first hospital in SA to be recognised with an international award for introducing new techniques and support-systems for managing their stroke patients better. 

The hospital was awarded the international Angels Diamond Award by the World Stroke Organisation for its excellence in acute stroke care.

The hospital was recognised with the award this week at a handover ceremony that took place at the medical facility. 

This is the first international award of its kind awarded to any South African hospital, both in the private and public sector.

The Angels Initiative is a unique healthcare initiative that helps hospitals around the world become stroke-ready so that patients who have just suffered a stroke can be treated as quickly and effectively as possible.

The initiative seeks to greatly reduce the burden of strokes for countless patients by working with hospitals to build an innovative network of stroke-ready hospitals worldwide, to reduce treatment delays and provide patients with the best acute stroke care. 

The Angels Awards were created to recognise hospitals that provide excellent stroke care, and to encourage hospitals to implement quality monitoring in order to improve performance.

The awards criteria are based on international guidelines for treating acute strokes. Hospitals are eligible for gold, platinum or diamond awards, with diamond representing the highest level of performance.

Steve Biko hospital CEO Dr Mathabo Mathebula said it was an honour for the hospital to be bestowed with such an award.  “It is a great honour to be awarded Diamond Status for stroke management by the World Stroke Organisation.

"This achievement has been a milestone in our journey and is a reflection of the relentless work our doctors have been doing to provide the best care to our patients at an international standard. We are committed to improving outcomes of stroke by ensuring that every patient admitted into our facility gets access to stroke care that will optimise their survival and recovery,’’ said Mathabo.

Head of neurology at Steve Biko Prof Mandisa Kakaza said this award recognised the hospital’s commitment to providing proper medical care for their patients. “It is crucial that the hospital has the right diagnostic equipment and well-trained staff to offer appropriate care and treatment without any delay.

"Our team aims to deliver continuous enhancements, and therefore, we have implemented training and aligned with international standards to ensure better care and support to reduce the burden of stroke that affects our communities,” said Kakaza.

The neurology department at the hospital started engaging with the Angels Initiative at the end of 2021. In a short period of time, the team introduced new measures and conducted training and simulations to streamline the acute management of stroke patients at the hospital.

The hospital’s average door-to-needle time, which is the time when the stroke patient arrives at emergency to initiation of therapy, is now 15 minutes.

Co-founder and project leader for the Angels Initiative Jan van der Merwe said꞉ “Eight years ago when we started the Angels Initiative, South Africa only had a handful of hospitals that could be considered ‘stroke-ready’.

"Today, we have more than 170. The improvement in stroke care in South Africa is a story that has inspired other countries across the world to improve their own stroke care in ways they never thought possible.

“I know that this will not be the last award that Dr Louis Kroon and his amazing stroke team at Steve Biko Academic Hospital will achieve; what I am interested to see is how many other hospitals in South Africa will follow in their footsteps.”

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