South Africa recently launched a national antiretroviral treatment programme. This has created an urgent need for nurse-training in antiretroviral treatment (ART) delivery. The PALSA PLUS programme provides guidelines and training for primary health care (PHC) nurses in the management of adult lung diseases and HIV/AIDS, including ART. A process evaluation was undertaken to document the training, explore perceptions regarding the value of the training, and compare the PALSA PLUS training approach (used at intervention sites) with the provincial training model. The evaluation was conducted alongside a randomized controlled trial measuring the effects of the PALSA PLUS nurse-training (Trial reference number ISRCTN24820584).
Qualitative methods were utilized, including participant observation of training sessions, focus group discussions and interviews. Data were analyzed thematically.
Nurse uptake of PALSA PLUS training, with regard not only to ART specific components but also lung health, was high. The ongoing on-site training of all PHC nurses, as opposed to the once-off centralized training provided for ART nurses only at non-intervention clinics, enhanced nurses' experience of support for their work by allowing, not only for ongoing experiential learning, supervision and emotional support, but also for the ongoing managerial review of all those infrastructural and system-level changes required to facilitate health provider behaviour change and guideline implementation. The training of all PHC nurses in PALSA PLUS guideline use, as opposed to ART nurses only, was also perceived to better facilitate the integration of AIDS care within the clinic context.
PALSA PLUS training successfully engaged all PHC nurses in a comprehensive approach to a range of illnesses affecting both HIV positive and negative patients. PHC nurse-training for integrated systems-based interventions should be prioritized on the ART funding agenda. Training for individual provider behaviour change is nonetheless only one aspect of the ongoing system-wide interventions required to effect lasting improvements in patient care in the context of an over-burdened and under-resourced PHC system.
Objective To investigate whether PALSA PLUS, an on-site educational outreach programme of non-didactic, case based, iterative clinical education of staff, led by a trainer, can increase access to and comprehensiveness of care for patients with HIV/AIDS.
Design Cluster randomised trial.
Setting Public primary care clinics offering HIV/AIDS care, antiretroviral treatment (ART), tuberculosis care, and ambulatory primary care in Free State province, South Africa.
Participants Fifteen clinics all implementing decentralisation and task shifting were randomised. The clinics cared for 400 000 general primary care patients and 10 136 patients in an HIV/AIDS/ART programme. There were 150 nurses.
Intervention On-site outreach education in eight clinics; no such education in seven (control).
Main outcome measures Provision of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis among patients referred to the HIV/AIDS/ART programme, and detection of cases of tuberculosis among those in the programme. Proportion of patients in the programme enrolled through general primary care consultations.
Results Patients referred to the HIV/AIDS programme through general primary care at intervention clinics were more likely than those at control clinics to receive co-trimoxazole prophylaxis (41%, (2253/5523) v 32% (1340/4210); odds ratio 1.95, 95% confidence interval 1.11 to 3.40), and tuberculosis was more likely to be diagnosed among patients with HIV/AIDS/ART (7% (417/5793) v 6% (245/4343); 1.25, 1.01 to 1.55). Enrolment in the HIV/AIDS and ART programme through HIV testing in general primary care was not significantly increased (53% v 50%; 1.19, 0.51 to 2.77). Secondary outcomes were similar, except for weight gain, which was higher in the intervention group (2.3 kg v 1.9 kg, P<0.001).
Conclusion Though outreach education is an effective and feasible strategy for improving comprehensiveness of care and wellbeing of patients with HIV/AIDS, there is no evidence that it increases access to the ART programme. It is now being widely implemented in South Africa.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 24820584.
In low-income countries, only about a third of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) patients eligible for anti-retroviral treatment currently receive it. Providing decentralized treatment close to where patients live is crucial to a faster scale up, however, a key obstacle is limited health system capacity due to a shortage of trained health-care workers and challenges of integrating HIV/AIDS care with other primary care services (e.g. tuberculosis, malaria, respiratory conditions). This study will test an adapted primary care health care worker training and guideline intervention, Practical Approach to Lung Health and HIV/AIDS Malawi (PALM PLUS), on staff retention and satisfaction, and quality of patient care.
A cluster-randomized trial design is being used to compare usual care with a standardized clinical guideline and training intervention, PALM PLUS. The intervention targets middle-cadre health care workers (nurses, clinical officers, medical assistants) in 30 rural primary care health centres in a single district in Malawi. PALM PLUS is an integrated, symptom-based and user-friendly guideline consistent with Malawian national treatment protocols. Training is standardized and based on an educational outreach approach. Trainers will be front-line peer healthcare workers trained to provide outreach training and support to their fellow front-line healthcare workers during focused (1-2 hours), intermittent, interactive sessions on-site in health centers. Primary outcomes are health care worker retention and satisfaction. Secondary outcomes are clinical outcomes measured at the health centre level for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission of HIV and other primary care conditions. Effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals for outcomes will be presented. Assessment of outcomes will occur at 1 year post- implementation.
The PALM PLUS trial aims to address a key problem: strengthening middle-cadre health care workers to support the broader scale up of HIV/AIDS services and their integration into primary care. The trial will test whether the PALM PLUS intervention improves staff satisfaction and retention, as well as the quality of patient care, when compared to usual practice.
Current controlled Trials: ISRCTN47805230
Nearly 3 million people in resource-poor countries receive antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, yet millions more require treatment. Key barriers to treatment scale up are shortages of trained health care workers, and challenges integrating HIV/AIDS care with primary care.
PALM PLUS (Practical Approach to Lung Health and HIV/AIDS in Malawi) is an intervention designed to simplify and integrate existing Malawian national guidelines into a single, simple, user-friendly guideline for mid-level health care workers. Training utilizes a peer-to-peer educational outreach approach. Research is being undertaken to evaluate this intervention to generate evidence that will guide future decision-making for consideration of roll out in Malawi. The research consists of a cluster randomized trial in 30 public health centres in Zomba District that measures the effect of the intervention on staff satisfaction and retention, quality of patient care, and costs through quantitative, qualitative and health economics methods.
Results and outcomes
In the first phase of qualitative inquiry respondents from intervention sites demonstrated in-depth knowledge of PALM PLUS compared to those from control sites. Participants in intervention sites felt that the PALM PLUS tool empowered them to provide better health services to patients. Interim staff retention data shows that there were, on average, 3 to 4 staff departing from the control and intervention sites per month. Additional qualitative, quantitative and economic analyses are planned.
Dignitas International and the Knowledge Translation Unit at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute have led the adaptation and development of the PALM PLUS intervention, using experience gained through the implementation of the South African precursor, PALSA PLUS. The Malawian partners, REACH Trust and the Research Unit at the Ministry of Health, have led the qualitative and economic evaluations. Dignitas and Ministry of Health have facilitated interaction with implementers and policy-makers.
Challenges and successes
This initiative is an example of South-South knowledge translation between South Africa and Malawi, mediated by a Canadian academic-NGO hybrid. Our success in developing and rolling out PALM PLUS in Malawi suggests that it is possible to adapt and implement this intervention for use in other resource-limited settings.
Shortages of health workers are obstacles to utilising global health initiative (GHI) funds effectively in Africa. This paper reports and analyses two countries' health workforce responses during a period of large increases in GHI funds.
Health facility record reviews were conducted in 52 facilities in Malawi and 39 facilities in Zambia in 2006/07 and 2008; quarterly totals from the last quarter of 2005 to the first quarter of 2008 inclusive in Malawi; and annual totals for 2004 to 2007 inclusive in Zambia. Topic-guided interviews were conducted with facility and district managers in both countries, and with health workers in Malawi.
Facility data confirm significant scale-up in HIV/AIDS service delivery in both countries. In Malawi, this was supported by a large increase in lower trained cadres and only a modest increase in clinical staff numbers. Routine outpatient workload fell in urban facilities, in rural health centres and in facilities not providing antiretroviral treatment (ART), while it increased at district hospitals and in facilities providing ART. In Zambia, total staff and clinical staff numbers stagnated between 2004 and 2007. In rural areas, outpatient workload, which was higher than at urban facilities, increased further. Key informants described the effects of increased workloads in both countries and attributed staff migration from public health facilities to non-government facilities in Zambia to PEPFAR.
Malawi, which received large levels of GHI funding from only the Global Fund, managed to increase facility staff across all levels of the health system: urban, district and rural health facilities, supported by task-shifting to lower trained staff. The more complex GHI arena in Zambia, where both Global Fund and PEPFAR provided large levels of support, may have undermined a coordinated national workforce response to addressing health worker shortages, leading to a less effective response in rural areas.
Malawi has one of the world's lowest densities of Health Care Workers (HCW) per capita. This study evaluates outcomes of a dedicated HCW HIV clinic in Malawi, created at Zomba Central Hospital in January 2007.
Methods and Findings
Retrospective cohort data was analyzed comparing HCW clinic patient baseline characteristics and treatment outcomes at 18 months after inception, against those attending the general HIV clinic. In-depth interviews and focus group discussions were conducted to explore perceptions of patients and caregivers regarding program value, level of awareness and barriers for uptake amongst HCW. 306 patients were enrolled on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the HCW HIV clinic, 6784 in the general clinic. Significantly (p<0.01) more HCW clients were initiated on ART on the basis of CD4 as opposed to WHO Stage 3/4 (36% vs.23%). Significantly fewer HCW clients defaulted (6% vs.17%), and died (4% vs.12%). The dedicated HCW HIV clinic was perceived as important and convenient in terms of reduced waiting times, and prompt and high quality care. Improved confidentiality was an appreciated quality of the HCW clinic however barriers included fear of being recognized.
Outcomes at the HCW clinic appear better compared to the general HIV clinic. The strategy of dedicated clinics to care for health providers is a means of HIV impact mitigation within human resource constrained health systems in high prevalence settings.
HIV counseling and testing, HIV prevention and provision of HIV care and support are essential activities to reduce the burden of HIV among patients with TB, and should be integrated into routine TB care.
The development of training materials to promote HIV services for TB patients involved the definition of target health care workers (HCWs); identification of required tasks, skills and knowledge; review of international guidelines; and adaptation of existing training materials for voluntary counseling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and management of opportunistic infections (OIs). Training effectiveness was assessed by means of questionnaires administered pre- and post-training, by correlating post-training results of HCWs with the centre's HIV testing acceptance rates, and through participatory observations at the time of on-site supervisory visits and monthly meetings.
Pre-training assessment identified gaps in basic knowledge of HIV epidemiology, the link between TB and HIV, interpretation of CD4 counts, prevention and management of OIs, and occupational post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Opinions on patients' rights and confidentiality varied. Mean test results increased from 72% pre-training to 87% post-training (p < 0.001). Important issues regarding HIV epidemiology and PEP remained poorly understood post-training. Mean post-training scores of clinic's HCWs were significantly correlated with the centre's HIV testing acceptance rates (p = 0.01). On-site supervisory visits and monthly meetings promoted staff motivation, participatory problem solving and continuing education. Training was also used as an opportunity to improve patient-centred care and HCWs' communication skills.
Many HCWs did not possess the knowledge or skills necessary to integrate HIV activities into routine care for patients with TB. A participatory approach resulted in training materials that fulfilled local needs.
Current educational strategies to integrate HIV care into primary medical care in Central America have traditionally targeted managers or higher-level officials, rather than local health care workers (HCWs). We developed a complementary online and on-site interactive training program to reach local HCWs at the primary care level in underserved communities.
The training program targeted physicians, nurses, and community HCWs with limited access to traditional onsite training in Panama, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Guatemala. The curriculum focused on principles of HIV care and health systems using a tutor-supported blended educational approach of an 8-week online component, a weeklong on-site problem-solving workshop, and individualized project-based interventions.
Of 258 initially active participants, 225 (225/258 = 87.2%) successfully completed the online component and the top 200 were invited to the on-site workshop. Of those, 170 (170/200 = 85%) attended the on-site workshop. In total, 142 completed all three components, including the project phase. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation instruments included knowledge assessments, reflexive essays, and acceptability surveys. The mean pre and post-essay scores demonstrating understanding of social determinants, health system organization, and integration of HIV services were 70% and 87.5%, respectively, with an increase in knowledge of 17.2% (p<0.001). The mean pre- and post-test scores evaluating clinical knowledge were 70.9% and 90.3%, respectively, with an increase in knowledge of 19.4% (p<0.001). A survey of Likert scale and open-ended questions demonstrated overwhelming participant satisfaction with course content, structure, and effectiveness in improving their HIV-related knowledge and skills.
This innovative curriculum utilized technology to target HCWs with limited access to educational resources. Participants benefited from technical skills acquired through the process, and could continue working within their underserved communities while participating in the online component and then implement interventions that successfully converted theoretical knowledge to action to improve integration of HIV care into primary care.
From 1997 through 2007, the Horizons program conducted research to inform the care and support of children who had been orphaned and rendered vulnerable by acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in sub-Saharan Africa. Horizons conducted studies in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Research included both diagnostic studies exploring the circumstances of families and communities affected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and evaluations of pioneering intervention strategies. Interventions found to be supportive of families included succession planning for families with an HIV-positive parent, training and supporting youth as caregivers, and youth mentorship for child-headed households. Horizons researchers developed tools to assess the psychosocial well-being of children affected by HIV and outlined key ethical guidelines for conducting research among children. The design, implementation, and evaluation of community-based interventions for orphans and vulnerable children continue to be a key gap in the evidence base.
The issue of stigma is very important in the battle against HIV/AIDS in Africa since it may affect patient attendance at healthcare centres for obtaining antiretroviral (ARV) medications and regular medical check-ups. Stigmatization creates an unnecessary culture of secrecy and silence based on ignorance and fear of victimization. This study was designed to determine if there is external stigmatization of people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) by health care workers (HCWs) at a tertiary hospital in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province, South Africa. The study investigated the impact of knowledge of HIV/AIDS by HCWs on treatment of patients, as well as the comfort level and attitude of HCWs when rendering care to PLWHA.
A descriptive cross sectional study was designed to collect data using an anonymous self-administered structured questionnaire from 334 HCWs. The study was conducted in clinical departments of a large multidisciplinary 922-bed tertiary care teaching hospital in Durban, KZN.
Overall HCWs had an above average knowledge about HIV/AIDS although some gaps in knowledge were identified. Tests of statistical significance showed that there was association between level of education and knowledge of HIV/AIDs (p ≤ 0.001); occupation and knowledge of HIV/AIDS (p ≤ 0.001); and gender and knowledge of HIV/AIDS (p = 0.004). Test for comfort level was only significant for gender, with males showing more comfort and empathy when dealing with PLWHA (p = 0.003). The study also revealed that patients were sometimes tested for HIV without informed consent before surgery, due to fear of being infected, and there was some gossiping about patients' HIV status by HCWs, thereby compromising patient confidentiality. The majority of HCWs showed a willingness to report incidents of stigmatization and discrimination to higher authorities, for better monitoring and control.
Although knowledge, attitude and comfort level of HCWs taking care of PLWHA was above average, enforcement of existing antidiscrimination laws and continuing education in medical ethics and healthcare law, would greatly improve the performance of HCWs taking care of PLWHAs. More psychological support and counselling should be provided to HCWs, to further reduce the impact of stigmatization and discrimination against PLWHA.
HIV/AIDS; Africa; Attitude; Comfort; Discrimination; Healthcare workers; PLWHA; Stigmatization
A major barrier to accessing free government-provided antiretroviral treatment (ART) in South Africa is the shortage of suitably skilled health professionals. Current South African guidelines recommend that only doctors should prescribe ART, even though most primary care is provided by nurses. We have developed an effective method of educational outreach to primary care nurses in South Africa. Evidence is needed as to whether primary care nurses, with suitable training and managerial support, can initiate and continue to prescribe and monitor ART in the majority of ART-eligible adults.
This is a protocol for a pragmatic cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a complex intervention based on and supporting nurse-led antiretroviral treatment (ART) for South African patients with HIV/AIDS, compared to current practice in which doctors are responsible for initiating ART and continuing prescribing. We will randomly allocate 31 primary care clinics in the Free State province to nurse-led or doctor-led ART. Two groups of patients aged 16 years and over will be included: a) 7400 registering with the programme with CD4 counts of ≤ 350 cells/mL (mainly to evaluate treatment initiation) and b) 4900 already receiving ART (to evaluate ongoing treatment and monitoring). The primary outcomes will be time to death (in the first group) and viral suppression (in the second group). Patients' survival, viral load and health status indicators will be measured at least 6-monthly for at least one year and up to 2 years, using an existing province-wide clinical database linked to the national death register.
Controlled Clinical Trials ISRCTN46836853
We present an innovative approach to healthcare worker (HCW) training using mobile phones as a personal learning environment.
Twenty physicians used individual Smartphones (Nokia N95 and iPhone), each equipped with a portable solar charger. Doctors worked in urban and peri-urban HIV/AIDS clinics in Peru, where almost 70% of the nation's HIV patients in need are on treatment. A set of 3D learning scenarios simulating interactive clinical cases was developed and adapted to the Smartphones for a continuing medical education program lasting 3 months. A mobile educational platform supporting learning events tracked participant learning progress. A discussion forum accessible via mobile connected participants to a group of HIV specialists available for back-up of the medical information. Learning outcomes were verified through mobile quizzes using multiple choice questions at the end of each module.
In December 2009, a mid-term evaluation was conducted, targeting both technical feasibility and user satisfaction. It also highlighted user perception of the program and the technical challenges encountered using mobile devices for lifelong learning.
With a response rate of 90% (18/20 questionnaires returned), the overall satisfaction of using mobile tools was generally greater for the iPhone. Access to Skype and Facebook, screen/keyboard size, and image quality were cited as more troublesome for the Nokia N95 compared to the iPhone.
Training, supervision and clinical mentoring of health workers are the cornerstone of the scaling up process of HIV/AIDS care in resource-limited settings (RLSs). Educational modules on mobile phones can give flexibility to HCWs for accessing learning content anywhere. However lack of softwares interoperability and the high investment cost for the Smartphones' purchase could represent a limitation to the wide spread use of such kind mLearning programs in RLSs.
Current antiretroviral treatment (ART) models in Africa are labour intensive and require a high number of skilled staff. In the context of constraints in human resources for health, task shifting is considered a feasible alternative for ART service delivery. In 2006, Dignitas International in partnership with the Malawi Ministry of Health trained a cadre of expert patients at the HIV Clinic at a tertiary referral hospital in Zomba, Malawi. Expert patients were trained to assist with clinic tasks including measurement of vital signs, anthropometry and counseling.
A descriptive observational study using mixed methods was conducted two years after the start of program implementation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 patients, seven expert patients and six formal health care providers to explore perceptions towards the expert patients’ contributions in the clinic. Structured exit interviews with 81 patients, assessed whether essential ART information was conveyed during counseling sessions. Vital signs and anthropometry measurements performed by expert patients were repeated by a nurse to assess accuracy of measurements. Direct observations quantified the time spent with each patient.
There were minor differences in measurement of patients’ weight, height and temperature between the expert patients and the nurse. The majority of patients exiting a counseling session reported, without prompting, at least three side effects of ART, correct actions to be taken on observing a side-effect, and correct consequences of non-adherence to ART. Expert patients carried out 368 hours of nurse tasks each month, saving two and a half full-time nurse equivalents per month. Formal health care workers and patients accept and value expert patients’ involvement in ART provision and care. Expert patients felt valued by patients for being a ‘role model’, or a ‘model of hope’, promoting positive living and adherence to ART.
Expert patients add value to the ART services at a tertiary referral HIV clinic in Malawi. Expert patients carry out shifted tasks acceptably, saving formal health staff time, and also act as ‘living testimonies’ of the benefits of ART and can be a means of achieving greater involvement of People Living with HIV in HIV treatment programs.
Task Shifting; Expert patients; Antiretroviral treatment; Malawi
While completing a recent medical elective in the Central African country of Malawi, medical student Dale Needham learned firsthand that HIV/AIDS represents a true pandemic in Africa. By the end of 1993, Malawi had the continent's highest per capita number of cumulative reported AIDS cases. Although Canadian physicians have had their own struggles helping patients with HIV/AIDS, many more battles are being fought in countries like Malawi, where financial resources are limited. In Africa, HIV-positive people of all ages suffer incredibly from diseases such as protein energy malnutrition, tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis. Primary health care programs, education in the primary schools and community awareness and support are partial answers to the pandemic.
People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) suffer increased depression prevalence compared to the general population, which negatively impacts antiretroviral (ART) adherence and HIV-related outcomes leading to morbidity and mortality. Yet depression in this population often goes undiagnosed and untreated. The current project sought to design an evidence-based approach to integrate depression care in HIV clinics. The model chosen, measurement-based care (MBC), is based on existing guidelines and the largest randomized trial of depression treatment. MBC was adapted to clinical realities of HIV care for use in a randomized controlled effectiveness trial of depression management at three academic HIV clinics. The adaptation accounts for drug–drug interactions critical to ongoing ART effectiveness and can be delivered by a multidisciplinary team of nonmental health providers. A treatment algorithm was developed that enables clinically supervised, nonphysician depression care managers (DCMs) to track and monitor antidepressant tolerability and treatment response while supporting nonpsychiatric prescribers with antidepressant choice and dosing. Quality of care is ensured through weekly supervision of DCMs by psychiatrists. Key areas of flexibility that have been important in implementation have included flexibility in timing of assessments, accommodation of divergence between algorithm recommendations and provider decisions, and accommodation of delays in implementing treatment plans. This adaptation of the MBC model to HIV care has accounted for critical antidepressant-antiretroviral interactions and facilitated the provision of quality antidepressant management within the HIV medical home.
Shortages of health care workers (HCWs) represents a serious challenge to ensuring effective HIV care in resource-limited settings (RLS). Stress, motivation, and job satisfaction have been linked with HCW retention and are important in addressing HCW shortages. In this cross-sectional study HCW stress, motivation, and perceived ability to meet patient needs were assessed in PEPFAR-supported urban HIV care and treatment clinics (CTCs) in Tanzania.
A self-administered questionnaire measuring motivation, stress, and perceived ability to meet patient needs was given to HCWs at 16 CTCs. Scales measuring HCW satisfaction, motivation, and stress were developed using principle components analysis. Hierarchical linear models were used to explore the association of HCW and site characteristics with reported satisfaction, stress, motivation, and ability to meet patient needs.
Seventy-three percent (279) of HCWs completed the questionnaire. Most (73%) HCWs reported minimal/no work-related stress, with 48% reporting good/excellent motivation, but 41% also reporting feeling emotionally drained. Almost all (98%) reported feeling able to help their patients, with 68% reporting work as rewarding. Most reported receipt of training and supervision, with good availability of resources. In the multivariate model, direct clinical providers reported lower motivation than management (p<0.05) and HCWs at medium-sized sites reported higher motivation than HCWs at larger sites (p<0.05). HCWs at small and medium sites were more likely to feel able to help patients than those from larger sites (p<0.05 and p<0.001 respectively).
Despite significant patient loads, HCWs in these PEPFAR-supported CTCs reported high levels of motivation, job satisfaction, ability to meet patient needs, low levels of stress but significant emotional toll. Understanding the relationship between support systems such as strong supervision and training and these outcomes is critical in designing interventions to improve motivation, reduce stress and increase retention of HCWs.
HIV; motivation; stress; health care workers; resource limited settings
Traditional complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) has been reported to be commonly used among individuals with HIV and AIDS disease. However a lack of communication between health care workers (HCWs) and patients as well as between HCWs and TCAM practitioners has been identified as one of the challenges that may adversely affect treatment of HIV and AIDS patients. With improved and sustained communication HCWs, patients and TCAM practitioners would be able to make informed decisions with regards to best treatment practices based on the knowledge of what is safe, effective and what is not. In order to establish a baseline understanding of the current status of interaction and communication between HCWs and TCAM profession in Durban, South Africa, the purpose of the study was to investigate the knowledge, attitudes and practices of HCWs in the HIV and AIDS clinics towards TCAM professions. Data was collected by means of anonymous self-administered questionnaire which was distributed to HCWs in the HIV and AIDS clinics. Out of 161 HCWs in the HIV and AIDS clinics 81 HCWs returned the questionnaires resulting in 50% response rate. The results showed that participants did not possess a basic knowledge of TCAM. Out of 81 participants 23 (28%) scored zero in a true or false knowledge assessment question.
Traditional Complementary and Alternative medicine; Health care workers; knowledge attitude and practices; HIV and AIDS
In Malawi essential drugs are provided free of charge to patients at all public health facilities in order to ensure equitable access to health care. The country thereby spends about 30% of the national health budget on drugs. In order to investigate the level of drug shortages and eventually find the reasons for the drugs shortages in Malawi, we studied the management of the drug supplies for common and life threatening diseases such as pneumonia and malaria in a random selection of health centres.
In July and August 2005 we visited eight out of a total of 37 health centres chosen at random in the Lilongwe District, Malawi. We recorded the logistics of eight essential and widely used drugs which according to the treatment guidelines should be available at all health centres. Five drugs are used regularly to treat pneumonia and three others to treat acute malaria. Out-of-stock situations in the course of one year were recorded retrospectively. We compared the quantity of each drug recorded on the Stock Cards with the actual stock of the drug on the shelves at the time of audit. We reviewed 8,968 Patient Records containing information on type and amount of drugs prescribed during one month.
On average, drugs for treating pneumonia were out of stock for six months during one year of observation (median value 167 days); anti-malarial drugs were lacking for periods ranging from 42 to138 days. The cross-sectional audit was even more negative, but here too the situation was more positive for anti-malarial drugs. The main reason for the shortage of drugs was insufficient deliveries from the Regional Medical Store. Benzyl penicillin was in shortest supply (4% received). The median value for non-availability was 240 days in the course of a year. The supply was better for anti-malarial drugs, except for quinine injections (9 %). Only 66 % of Stock Card records of quantities received were reflected in Patient Records showing quantities dispensed.
We conclude that for the eight index drugs the levels of supply are unacceptable. The main reason for the observed shortage of drugs at the health centres was insufficient deliveries from the Regional Medical Store. A difference between the information recorded on the Stock Cards at the health centres and that recorded in the Patient Records may have contributed to the overall poor drug supply situation. In order to ensure equitable access to life saving drugs, logistics in general should be put in order before specific disease management programmes are initiated.
There is a critical shortage of healthcare workers in sub-Saharan Africa, and Malawi has one of the lowest physician densities in the region. One of the reasons for this shortage is inadequate retention of medical school graduates, partly due to the desire for specialization training. The University of Malawi College of Medicine has developed specialty training programs, but medical school graduates continue to report a desire to leave the country for specialization training. To understand this desire, we studied medical students’ perspectives on specialization training in Malawi.
We conducted semi-structured interviews of medical students in the final year of their degree program. We developed an interview guide through an iterative process, and recorded and transcribed all interviews for analysis. Two independent coders coded the manuscripts and assessed inter-coder reliability, and the authors used an “editing approach” to qualitative analysis to identify and categorize themes relating to the research aim. The University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board and the University of Malawi College of Medicine Research and Ethics Committee approved this study and authors obtained written informed consent from all participants.
We interviewed 21 medical students. All students reported a desire for specialization training, with 12 (57%) students interested in specialties not currently offered in Malawi. Students discussed reasons for pursuing specialization training, impressions of specialization training in Malawi, reasons for staying or leaving Malawi to pursue specialization training and recommendations to improve training.
Graduating medical students in Malawi have mixed views of specialization training in their own country and still desire to leave Malawi to pursue further training. Training institutions in sub-Saharan Africa need to understand the needs of the country’s healthcare workforce and the needs of their graduating medical students to be able to match opportunities and retain graduating students.
Medical education; Postgraduate medical education; Specialization training; Medical migration; Sub-Saharan Africa; Qualitative research
Mental health care providers in South Africa often lack the skills to conduct effective prevention activities in psychiatric settings. This article describes the development and evaluation of an HIV education program for mental health care providers at three psychiatric institutions in South Africa.
The research team worked with a core group of 16 mental health care providers to assess HIV training needs and to develop a training intervention focused on identified issues. The training intervention was administered to three groups (42 total) during three 1.5-day workshops. Providers completed pre- and postintervention assessments that measured knowledge and attitudes about HIV and AIDS.
Data analysis revealed a significant increase in reported levels of comfort with HIV care (d=.54), perceived knowledge of HIV (d=1.17), and factual knowledge (d=.74).
This contextually relevant HIV education curriculum changed providers’ attitudes and knowledge, demonstrated the feasibility of administering the training program, and provided a foundation for further prevention activities.
ACTG A5199 compared the neuropsychological effects of 3 antiretroviral regimens in 860 human immunodeficiency virus–positive participants from Brazil, India, Malawi, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and Zimbabwe. Treatment with either of the World Health Organization–recommended first-line regimens improved neurological and neuropsychological functioning.
Background. AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) A5199 compared the neurological and neuropsychological (NP) effects of 3 antiretroviral regimens in participants infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in resource-limited settings.
Methods. Participants from Brazil, India, Malawi, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and Zimbabwe were randomized to 3 antiretroviral treatment arms: A (lamivudine-zidovudine plus efavirenz, n = 289), B (atazanavir, emtricitabine, and didanosine-EC, n = 293), and C (emtricitabine-tenofovir-disoproxil fumarate plus efavirenz, n = 278) as part of the ACTG PEARLS study (A5175). Standardized neurological and neuropsychological (NP) screening examinations (grooved pegboard, timed gait, semantic verbal fluency, and finger tapping) were administered every 24 weeks from February 2006 to May 2010. Associations with neurological and neuropsychological function were estimated from linear and logistic regression models using generalized estimating equations.
Results. The median weeks on study was 168 (Q1 = 96, Q3 = 192) for the 860 participants. NP test scores improved (P < .05) with the exception of semantic verbal fluency. No differences in neurological and neuropsychological functioning between treatment regimens were detected (P > .10). Significant country effects were noted on all NP tests and neurological outcomes (P < .01).
Conclusions. The study detected no significant differences in neuropsychological and neurological outcomes between randomized ART regimens. Significant improvement occurred in neurocognitive and neurological functioning over time after initiation of ARTs. The etiology of these improvements is likely multifactorial, reflecting reduced central nervous system HIV infection, better general health, and practice effects. This study suggests that treatment with either of the World Health Organization –recommended first-line antiretroviral regimens in resource-limited settings will improve neuropsychological functioning and reduce neurological dysfunction.
Clinical trials registration. NCT00096824.
The integration of HIV care into primary care services is one of the strategies proposed to increase access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS in high HIV burden countries. However, how best to do this is poorly understood. This study documents different factors influencing models of integration within clinics.
Using methods based on the meta-ethnographic approach, we synthesised the findings from three qualitative studies of the factors that influenced integration of HIV care into all consultations in primary care. The studies were conducted amongst staff and patients in South Africa during a randomised trial of nurse initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and integration of HIV care into primary care services – the Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV (STRETCH) trial. Themes from each study were identified and translated into each other to develop categories and sub-categories and then to inform higher level interpretations of the synthesised data.
Clinics varied as to how HIV care was integrated. Existing administration systems, workload and support staff shortages tended to hinder integration. Nurses’ wanted to be involved in providing HIV care and yet also expressed preferences for developing expertise in certain areas and for establishing good nurse patient relationships by specialising in certain services. Patients, in turn, were concerned about the stigma of separate HIV services and yet preferred to be seen by nurses with expertise in HIV care. These factors had conflicting effects on efforts to integrate HIV care.
Local clinic factors and nurse and patient preferences in relation to care delivery should be taken into account in programmes to integrate HIV care into primary care services. The integration of medical records, monitoring and reporting systems would support clinic based efforts to integrate HIV care into primary care services.
Integration; HIV care; Primary health care; Nurse specialisation; Stigma
There are limited data characterizing the burden of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Malawi. Epidemiologic research and access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services have been traditionally limited in Malawi by criminalization and stigmatization of same-sex practices. To inform the development of a comprehensive HIV prevention intervention for Malawian MSM, we conducted a community-led assessment of HIV prevalence and correlates of infection.
From April 2011 to March 2012, 338 MSM were enrolled in a cross-sectional study in Blantyre, Malawi. Participants were recruited by respondent-driven sampling methods (RDS), reaching 19 waves. Trained staff administered the socio-behavioural survey and HIV and syphilis voluntary counselling and testing.
Crude HIV and syphilis prevalence estimates were 15.4% (RDS-weighted 12.5%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 7.3–17.8) and 5.3% (RDS-weighted 4.4%, 95% CI: 3.1–7.6), respectively. Ninety per cent (90.4%, unweighted) of HIV infections were reported as being previously undiagnosed. Participants were predominantly gay-identified (60.8%) or bisexually identified (36.3%); 50.7% reported recent concurrent relationships. Approximately half reported consistent condom use (always or almost always) with casual male partners, and proportions were relatively uniform across partner types and genders. The prevalence of perceived and experienced stigma exceeded 20% for almost all variables, 11.4% ever experienced physical violence and 7% were ever raped. Current age >25 years (RDS-weighted adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 3.9, 95% CI: 1.2–12.7), single marital status (RDS-weighted AOR: 0.3; 95% CI: 0.1–0.8) and age of first sex with a man <16 years (RDS-weighted AOR: 4.3, 95% CI: 1.2–15.0) were independently associated with HIV infection.
Results demonstrate that MSM represent an underserved, at-risk population for HIV services in Malawi and merit comprehensive HIV prevention services. Results provide a number of priorities for research and prevention programmes for MSM, including providing access to and encouraging regular confidential HIV testing and counselling, and risk reduction counselling related to anal intercourse. Other targets include the provision of condoms and compatible lubricants, HIV prevention information, and HIV and sexually transmitted infection treatment and adherence support. Addressing multiple levels of HIV risk, including structural factors, may help to ensure that programmes have sufficient coverage to impact this HIV epidemic among MSM.
HIV; men who have sex with men (MSM); behavioural risks; stigma; Malawi; prevention
Preparing health workers to confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic is an urgent challenge in Haiti, where the HIV prevalence rate is 2.2% and approximately 10 100 people are taking antiretroviral treatment. There is a critical shortage of doctors in Haiti, leaving nurses as the primary care providers for much of the population. Haiti's approximately 1000 nurses play a leading role in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment. However, nurses do not receive sufficient training at the pre-service level to carry out this important work.
To address this issue, the Ministry of Health and Population collaborated with the International Training and Education Center on HIV over a period of 12 months to create a competency-based HIV/AIDS curriculum to be integrated into the 4-year baccalaureate programme of the four national schools of nursing.
Using a review of the international health and education literature on HIV/AIDS competencies and various models of curriculum development, a Haiti-based curriculum committee developed expected HIV/AIDS competencies for graduating nurses and then drafted related learning objectives. The committee then mapped these learning objectives to current courses in the nursing curriculum and created an 'HIV/AIDS Teaching Guide' for faculty on how to integrate and achieve these objectives within their current courses. The curriculum committee also created an 'HIV/AIDS Reference Manual' that detailed the relevant HIV/AIDS content that should be taught for each course.
All nursing students will now need to demonstrate competency in HIV/AIDS-related knowledge, skills and attitudes during periodic assessment with direct observation of the student performing authentic tasks. Faculty will have the responsibility of developing exercises to address the required objectives and creating assessment tools to demonstrate that their graduates have met the objectives. This activity brought different administrators, nurse leaders and faculty from four geographically dispersed nursing schools to collaborate on a shared goal using a process that could be easily replicated to integrate any new topic in a resource-constrained pre-service institution. It is hoped that this experience provided stakeholders with the experience, skills and motivation to strengthen other domains of the pre-service nursing curriculum, improve the synchronization of didactic and practical training and develop standardized, competency-based examinations for nursing licensure in Haiti.
In parallel with the rollout of Botswana’s national antiretroviral therapy (ART) program, the Botswana Ministry of Health established the KITSO AIDS Training Program by entering into long-term partnerships with the Botswana–Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership for HIV Research and Education and others to provide standardized, country-specific training in HIV/AIDS care. The KITSO training model has strengthened human capacity within Botswana’s health sector and been indispensable to successful ART rollout. Through core and advanced training courses and clinical mentoring, different cadres of health care workers have been trained to provide high-quality HIV/AIDS care at all ART sites in the country. Continuous and standardized clinical education will be crucial to sustain the present level of care and successfully address future treatment challenges.