Paidamoyo Chipunza recently in GOKWE
All nurses in Gokwe District are authorised to initiate people living with HIV and Aids on anti-retroviral treatment at their clinics, following a successful Government-led mentoring programme.
Drawn from all the 18 clinics dotted across the district, the nurses underwent vigorous mentoring by experienced medical staff from Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) over a two-year period.
MSF programme co-ordinator Ms Alice Otiato said 17 nurses were trained in integrated HIV management, and seven in adult HIV management as approved by Government.
“All accredited facilities are now able to manage secondary complications for patients on ART,” she said.
Previously, ARV initiation was done by doctors only.
The nurses scope of practice was only amended in 2012 to allow them to initiate treatment.
After initiation by a doctor at a district hospital, the patients would then collect their monthly supplies from their nearest clinic.
Ms Otiato said the previous arrangement delayed many patients from accessing treatment quickly and had implications on distances people travelled before they could be initiated on treatment.
“This development will go a long way in getting patients quicker on treatment and better response to treatment by patients,” she said.
MSF also assisted nurses to manage tuberculosis, opportunistic infections and in supporting victims of sexual violence.
Ms Otiano said MSF was now winding down its operations in Gokwe.
“We will be leaving Gokwe in December, but at the moment we are handing over all the clinics that we have been assisting to Government.
“We are doing this gradually to ensure a smooth transition,” she said.
Eight of 18 clinics have already been handed over to Government.
Ms Otiano said they were lobbying Government to ensure a constant supply of drugs to the clinics they were supporting.
“It was not our core business to supply drugs to the clinics but we would fill in gaps when stock-outs occur.
‘‘We hope these gaps will not continue as we have lobbied with the National Pharmaceutical Company,” she said.