Thursday, 13 September 2007

Training nurses to dispense ARV treatment in Botswana

Abuja, Nigeria—In Botswana, the reality of medical care in most clinics is an overwhelming lack of pharmaceutical officers to administer anti-retroviral treatment for AIDS patients. This means that if you are a person living with HIV/AIDS, you are often forced to trek to towns or large villages to receive anti-retroviral services, waiting in long lines and spending your entire month’s savings to receive a package of life-saving drugs.

Because of this reality, nurses in Botswana are now the backbone of Harvard-PEPFAR’s health care systems. Harvard-PEPFAR trained its nurses how to order and manage ARV drugs, how to quantify treatments, how to conduct quality storing of ARV drugs, and how to monitor adverse drug reactions among patients.

So far 86 nurses have been trained to administer ARV drugs, and among these nurses most are able to assist pharmaceutical officers if needed. The challenges they’ve faced have ranged from inadequate space to store medications, inadequate human resources (including an overall lack of pharmaceutical officers) and inadequate counseling for patients who collect ARV treatment from the nurses.

But Dr. Joyce Kgatlawne of Botswana’s National Program of Nurses Dispensing ARVs is confident that the training program will overcome these obstacles if constant monitoring and evaluation of nurses is enforced. According to Kgatlawne, “Nurses can be the future of ARV treatment, but the training and mechanisms to monitor and supervise the practices are essential.”

*Reported by Amanda Hale

No comments: