Access to ART improved in Oshikuku

09 Aug 2017 13:10pm
By Isabel Bento
OSHIKUKU, 09 AUG (NAMPA) – The Nurse Initiated and Managed Antiretroviral Treatment (NIMART) training has improved the provision of antiretroviral treatment (ART) to people living with HIV/Aids who are unable to access hospitals.
The programme has also reduced the congestion of patients at health facilities.
ART is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection.
In an interview with Nampa recently, Oshikuku District Hospital Senior Medical Officer, Dr Samuel Awe expressed optimism regarding people’s access to ART in remote areas.
“A number of nurses have now received this training and are now providing ART services in previously disadvantaged communities,” said Awe.
NIMART is part of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) decentralisation of HIV related services, and is being done with support of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Awe said the number of people living with HIV/Aids and having access to ART has increased in the district since NIMART’s implementation in 2015.
“We now have more patients adhering to their treatment than it was in the past,” Awe said.
In past years, access to ART meant specialised doctors and patients had to travel long distances to hospitals because ART was not available at clinics or district hospitals.
Awe said patients have expressed satisfaction having such health services closer to them.
In 2015, the MoHSS partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) HIV Clinical Services Technical Assistance Project (UTAP) and managed to provide NIMART training to over 180 nurses and administrative staff in Namibia.
The UTAP programme started in February 2015 and after the first year of implementation, USAID and IntraHealth modified it to expand the programme’s scope and geographic coverage to HIV prevention, care and treatment services to areas with high HIV prevalence rates. UTAP ends in 2019.
Intrahealth is a United States of America-based network of health workers around the world that focuses on developing the skills of health workers.
NIMART also includes a mentoring programme for nurses and doctors to ensure training is applied accordingly.
Thomas Lazarus, a nurse mentor at the Oshikuku District Hospital, underwent NIMART training and is now responsible for mentoring other nurses in the district.
He said before NIMART, doctors at hospitals were under pressure and nurses were disappointed that they could not provide the services.
“After this training, in less than two years, we managed to establish 16 NIMART facilities, serving various communities,” Lazarus said, adding that through the programme, nurses have improved their skills and developed better relationships with patients.