South African Program Promotes Task-Shifting for Nurses


The Selibeng Sa Tsepo — “Wellspring of Hope” — pilot program has demonstrated the viability of nurse-led primary health care clinics for the delivery of HIV and TB care and treatment services to patients in remote rural areas.

Based in Lesotho, the program was launched in 2006 with the goal of decentralizing HIV care and treatment while at the same time addressing the severe shortage of doctors. Nurses were trained at 14 health centers to perform some tasks previously restricted to doctors, while lay counselors were trained to assist in testing and treatment adherence.

The program underwent a three-year pilot phase in a rural health zone with a population of 200,000. By its conclusion, 40,000 people had been tested for HIV, over 4,000 had been enrolled in ARV treatment and HIV transmission was successfully reduced to less than five percent among pregnant women who had received treatment for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

Control of the program is being transferred to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Replication of the model of decentralization of HIV/AIDS services through task shifting is currently underway in other parts of South Africa.

Adapted from Plus News report.

For more information, please see the program report.

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