Nurses as good as doctors in Aids care monitoring

Nurses are as good as doctors at monitoring treatment for Aids patients, and shifting this role to them could help ease a critical shortage of health workers, experts said on Wednesday.

A study into so-called “task-shifting” in HIV care in South Africa found virtually no difference in outcomes for patients taking antiretrovirals drugs under the care of a nurse or a doctor.

South Africa, where HIV/Aids kills an estimated 1 000 people a day, has the world’s largest national programme of treatment with antiretroviral drugs, but has only 17,4 medical practitioners for every 100 000 people, according to the study.

The United Nations estimates that 33-million people around the world are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes Aids, and more than half of the 9,5-million people who need Aids drugs cannot get them.

That problem is compounded by a global shortage of 4,3-million healthcare workers.

The World Health Organisation recently proposed “task-shifting” from doctors to other healthcare workers.

To see if this strategy would pay off, a team from the Comprehensive International Programme for Research in Aids in South Africa compared the outcomes of nurse versus doctor management for patients in two clinics between 2005 and 2007.

They found that 48% of patients had treatment failure in the nurse group, compared with 44% in the doctor group. After two years, deaths and outcomes such as drug toxicity side effects or drop-out were also similar. – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

From ‘academic boys’ to ‘sex-jaros’: What it means to be a black boy in a South African township

Toxic masculinities help drive everything from HIV infection rates to gender-based violence. But before we ask, what does it mean to be a ‘man’ in South Africa, should we wonder what it’s like to be a boy?

South Africa prioritises fossil fuels over clean energy in post-Covid-19 recovery packages

The country is among the G20 countries who have invested in electricity produced from coal, oil and gas at the cost of addressing climate change

Challenges and opportunities for telemedicine in Africa

Telemedicine in Africa is currently limited by the availability of basic infrastructure, but, considering the lack of doctors in rural areas, it is a vital component in addressing the continent’s healthcare needs

Fight the disease of corruption in the same way we fight the coronavirus

Gogo Dlamini, Themba Dlamini’s mother, died of Covid-19, but Mzanzi has a chance to rid the country of fraud and exploitation and instead serve ‘Gogo Dlamini’, the people of South Africa

This time it’s different: African economies may not survive

Amid the headwinds created by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time the Aloe ferox, which survives in dry, harsh conditions, is nurtured — but the options are limited

The SADC will regret its approach to Mozambique’s insurgence

The SADC has been lackadaisical in its response to the insurgency in Mozambique and in so doing, is putting several other southern African countries at risk

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday