Through the Nursing Education Partnership Initiative, ICAP and its partners in six sub-Saharan African countries that face critical shortages in human resources for health, have graduated over 6,200 nursing and midwifery students and trained almost 1,600 faculty, mentors, and nursing administrators.
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At the Centre de Sante Urbain Zikisso, an ICAP-supported clinic in the rural town of Lakota, Cote d’Ivoire, a female patient receives HIV care and treatment services. Diagnosed with HIV four years earlier, the patient discontinued antiretroviral treatment believing she had been cured, and new to the area, she was reluctant to seek treatment once she became ill. Like many Ivoirians, several factors interrupted her care. HIV retention rates at health facilities in Cote d’Ivoire vary between 32 and 76 percent, well below the PEPFAR target. Her escort, Mr. Tagbo Gballo Felix, a community health worker (CHW), is part of ICAP’s effort to improve HIV treatment retention rates.
ICAP hosted its sixth annual summit meeting of the Nursing Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI) “Nursing and Midwifery Education for an AIDS-Free Generation” on January 21-23 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The summit brought together over 100 partners, nurses, doctors, educators, policy makers and donors to discuss the current state of nursing education in sub-Saharan Africa and efforts to achieve ambitious HIV goals such as 90-90-90, where 90 percent of people with HIV are diagnosed; on antiretroviral treatment; and virally suppressed by 2020.
This month, ICAP launched the Option B+ online training for nurses and midwives. A new approach recommended by WHO to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), Option B+ includes initiating lifelong antiretroviral treatment (ART) for pregnant and breastfeeding women infected with HIV.
When Maselobe Lebona was a nursing student at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), she often became nervous when she had to perform procedures on patients for the first time. Because she did not have an opportunity to practice certain skills in a clinical simulation setting, such as drawing blood, she was anxious and often unable to accomplish the task. Some patients only allowed her one chance. “This was a problem because hardly any students would get it right on the first attempt,” said Lebona, now a clinical supervisor at NUL. For patients with HIV, this can be particularly distressing as results determine when they will begin life-saving medications.
ICAP recently celebrated major milestones in its support of HIV prevention, care and treatment programs around the world. Through ICAP support, over 1 million people have received access to live-saving treatment and grown to support over 3,380 sites. Key to reaching global HIV treatment goals is the need for an expanded clinical role for nurses and midwives, including initiating and managing patients on antiretroviral treatment (ART), in countries that face a shortage of health care workers. New ambitious treatment goals for adults and children as well as for the scale-up of the Option B+ for PMTCT compel the need to continue pre-service and in-service education, training and mentorship for the nursing workforce.