ICAP’s newly expanded programming in South Africa will leverage almost a decade of expertise on strengthening health systems in high-HIV burden contexts with emphasis in human resources, service delivery, information systems, and leadership and governance. The project, which is run in close collaboration with the South African National Department of Health, will play an important role in supporting the country’s fast-tracked response and its ambitions targets to end the country’s AIDS epidemic by 2030. ICAP’s work to improve HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) service delivery in South Africa drives health innovations at national and community levels using practical, action-oriented approaches.

Continued funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allows ICAP to expand its systems building work in South Africa, ensuring that health facilities across the nation are able to provide treatment and services for HIV and TB more efficiently and effectively. With support from CDC, ICAP will strengthen the community and clinic connection to optimize prevention and treatment services as well as retention in care for HIV and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The expanded project includes the scale up of competency-based capacity building for community health workers, master trainers, and outreach team leaders in collaboration with South Africa’s Department of Health, as well as the introduction of rigorous evaluations of community health outreach interventions in line with achieving HIV epidemic control and scale up of chronic care service delivery for NCDs. ICAP will create the country’s first standardized curriculum for community health workers to train them up in basic health prevention techniques including screening for HIV, diabetes, and irregular blood pressure. By strengthening human resources for health (HRH) service delivery, information management systems, and workforce training, ICAP is helping providers expand access to HIV and primary health care services across the nation using data-driven approaches.

“By building the competence and supportive oversight of the frontline health workforce, ICAP’s practical approach to implementing data-driven programming is making significant inroads to achieving HIV epidemic control in Sub-Saharan Africa,” stated the project’s principal investigator, Susan Michaels-Strasser, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN. “When nurses and community health workers are empowered to diagnose and initiate treatment, they are ensuring that patients have timely access to care and the health benefits that come with starting treatment early. We are proud of ICAP’s work in building human resources capacity not only in South Africa, but across the region at large.”

ICAP’s past impact in South Africa’s health workforce include building state-of-the-art simulation training labs in nursing colleges; creating online, accredited postgraduate courses in HIV and TB care management for rural healthcare providers in partnership with the University of Cape Town and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, developing new competency-based curricula; and leading training of health professionals and educators and trainers in HIV treatment approaches. ICAP will leverage previous work developing campus to clinic guidelines and mentorship materials to ensure strong program outcomes.

“ICAP is continuing its critical work to fight the HIV epidemic in South Africa by working in partnership with the South Africa Department of Health to strengthen the capacity of community health workers to respond to priority health needs including HIV, TB, maternal and child health, diabetes and hypertension through screening and linkage to care,” said Blanche Pitt, MSc, country director for ICAP in South Africa.

ICAP’s work supports shared targets identified by South Africa’s National Department of Health and PEPFAR aimed at enrolling an additional two million people on treatment by the end of 2020.

A global health leader since 2003, ICAP was founded at Columbia University with one overarching goal: to improve the health of families and communities. Together with its partners—ministries of health, large multilaterals, health care providers, and patients—ICAP strives for a world where health is available to all. To date, ICAP has addressed major public health challenges and the needs of local health systems through 6,000 sites across more than 30 countries. For more information about ICAP, visit: icap.columbia.edu

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