Task shifting in HIV/AIDS: opportunities, challenges and proposed actions for sub-Saharan Africa
ABSTRACT Sub-Saharan Africa is facing a crisis in human health resources due to a critical shortage of health workers. The shortage is compounded by a high burden of infectious diseases; emigration of trained professionals; difficult working conditions and low motivation. In particular, the burden of HIV/AIDS has led to the concept of task shifting being increasingly promoted as a way of rapidly expanding human resource capacity. This refers to the delegation of medical and health service responsibilities from higher to lower cadres of health staff, in some cases non-professionals. This paper, drawing on Médecins Sans Frontières' experience of scaling-up antiretroviral treatment in three sub-Saharan African countries (Malawi, South Africa and Lesotho) and supplemented by a review of the literature, highlights the main opportunities and challenges posed by task shifting and proposes specific actions to tackle the challenges. The opportunities include: increasing access to life-saving treatment; improving the workforce skills mix and health-system efficiency; enhancing the role of the community; cost advantages and reducing attrition and international 'brain drain'. The challenges include: maintaining quality and safety; addressing professional and institutional resistance; sustaining motivation and performance and preventing deaths of health workers from HIV/AIDS. Task shifting should not undermine the primary objective of improving patient benefits and public health outcomes.
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ABSTRACT: Tanzania suffers a severe shortage of pharmaceutical staff. This negatively affects the provision of pharmaceutical services and access to medicines, particularly in rural areas. Task shifting has been proposed as a way to mitigate the impact of health worker shortfalls.The aim of this study was to understand the context and extent of task shifting in pharmaceutical management in Dodoma Region, Tanzania. We explored 1) the number of trained pharmaceutical staff as compared to clinical cadres managing medicines, 2) the national establishment for staffing levels, 3) job descriptions, 4) supply management training conducted and 5) availability of medicines and adherence to Good Storage Practice. A cross-sectional study was conducted in 270 public health facilities in 2011. A pre-tested questionnaire was administered to the person in charge of the facility to collect data on staff employed and their respective pharmaceutical tasks. Availability of 26 tracer medicines and adherence to Good Storage Practice guidelines was surveyed by direct observation. The national establishments for pharmaceutical staffing levels and job descriptions of facility cadres were analysed. While required staffing levels in 1999 were 50, the region employed a total of only 14 pharmaceutical staff in 2011. Job descriptions revealed that, next to pharmaceutical staff, only nurses were required to provide dispensing services and adherence counselling. In 95.5% of studied health facilities medicines management was done by non-pharmaceutically trained cadres, predominantly medical attendants. The first training on supply management was provided in 2005 with no refresher training thereafter. Mean availability of tracer medicines was 53%, while 56% of health facilities fully met criteria of Good Storage Practice. Task shifting is a reality in the pharmaceutical sector in Tanzania and it occurs mainly as a coping mechanism rather than a formal response to the workforce crisis. In Dodoma Region, pharmacy-related tasks and supply management have informally been shifted to clinical staff without policy guidance, explicit job descriptions, and without the necessary support through training. Implicit task shifting should be recognized and formalized. Job orientation, training and operational procedures may be useful to support non-pharmaceutical health workers to effectively manage medicine supply.12/2015; 8(1). DOI:10.1186/s40545-015-0032-8
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ABSTRACT: Community case management (CCM) is a promising task-shifting strategy for expanding treatment of childhood illness that is increasingly adopted by low-income countries. Its success depends in part on how the strategy is perceived by those responsible for its implementation. This study uses qualitative methods to explore health workers' and managers' perceptions about CCM provided by health surveillance assistants (HSAs) during the program's first year in Malawi. Managers and HSAs agreed that CCM contributed beneficially by expanding access to the underserved and reducing caseloads at health facilities. Managers differed among themselves in their endorsements of CCM, most offered constrained endorsement, and a few had stronger justifications for CCM. In addition, HSAs uniformly wanted continued expansion of their clinical role, while managers preferred to view CCM as a limited mandate. The HSAs also reported motivating factors and frustrations related to system constraints and community pressures related to CCM. The impact of CCM on motivation and workload of HSAs is noted and deserves further attention.The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 11/2012; 87(5 Suppl):61-68. DOI:10.4269/ajtmh.2012.11-0665 · 2.74 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Antiretroviral therapy (ART) guidelines were significantly changed by the World Health Organization in 2010. It is largely unknown to what extent these guidelines were adopted into clinical practice. This was a retrospective observational analysis of first-line ART regimens in a sample of health facilities providing ART in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia between 2007-2008 and 2011-2012. Data were analyzed for changes in regimen over time and assessed for key patient- and facility-level determinants of tenofovir (TDF) utilization in Kenya and Uganda using a mixed effects model. Data were obtained from 29,507 patients from 146 facilities. The overall percentage of patients initiated on TDF-based therapy increased between 2007-2008 and 2011-2012 from 3% to 37% in Kenya, 2% to 34% in Uganda, and 64% to 87% in Zambia. A simultaneous decrease in stavudine (d4T) utilization was also noted, but its use was not eliminated, and there remained significant variation in facility prescribing patterns. For patients initiating ART in 2011-2012, we found increased odds of TDF use with more advanced disease at initiation in both Kenya (odds ratio [OR]: 2.78; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.73-4.48) and Uganda (OR: 2.15; 95% CI: 1.46-3.17). Having a CD4 test performed at initiation was also a significant predictor in Uganda (OR: 1.43; 95% CI: 1.16-1.76). No facility-level determinants of TDF utilization were seen in Kenya, but private facilities (OR: 2.86; 95% CI: 1.45-5.66) and those employing a doctor (OR: 2.86; 95% CI: 1.48-5.51) were more likely to initiate patients on TDF in Uganda. d4T-based ART has largely been phased out over the study period. However, significant in-country and cross-country variation exists. Among the most recently initiated patients, those with more advanced disease at initiation were most likely to start TDF-based treatment. No facility-level determinants were consistent across countries to explain the observed facility-level variation.PLoS ONE 01/2015; 10(3):e0120350. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0120350 · 3.53 Impact Factor