Nurses praise ART programme

2016-05-17 10:41
Pietermaritzburg nurses Thembeka Madlala (left) and Philisiwe Mbatha share their success stories of how Nurse-Initiated Management of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (Nimart) has worked in rural communities.

Pietermaritzburg nurses Thembeka Madlala (left) and Philisiwe Mbatha share their success stories of how Nurse-Initiated Management of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (Nimart) has worked in rural communities. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Nurses and patients from across the province came together yesterday to reveal real-life success stories as a result of Nurse-Initiated Management of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (Nimart).

Nimart is a programme that allows trained nurses to distribute ARVs — a function previously restricted to doctors only.

The programme, developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), was introduced in SA in 2010 for nurses working in the field of HIV and TB.

Trained nurses working in rural and mobile clinics are now able to provide their patients with anti-retroviral treatment (ART) instead of patients having to travel or wait in long queues to receive their medication from a doctor.

KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo spoke to nurses and patients who have benefitted from the programme yesterday at the Ascot Inn in Pietermaritzburg.

He said, as announced in the national health budget speech last week, the country will be able to provide ART to people as soon as they are diagnosed instead of the patients having to wait until their CD4 count drops to 500.

High Transmission Area clinic Nimart nurse Philisiwe Mbatha, who operates from four taxi ranks in Pietermaritzburg and a weighbridge for truck drivers, said yesterday she was grateful for the training and how it had helped patients.

“I see taxi drivers not taking their ARVs because they are unable to take off work to get to the doctor.

“Because of my training, I am able to help 81 taxi drivers who previously weren’t taking their medication because they didn’t have time or access.

“I can see the difference and I am happy that I am able to help them and educate them,” she said.

Impendle clinic nurse Thembeka Madlala said after she had completed her Nimart training, her first patient was a woman in her 50s who had been left motionless at the gates of the clinic by a taxi in 2011.

Through the training, Madlala was able to help the woman and put her on ARVs. “Now she is doing very well and I am happy I could help her.”

Imbali resident Busisiwe Mshengu said she was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2010.

Mshengu (62) said she was only able to start treatment in 2011 when her CD4 count had dropped.

“In 2014, I was put onto the fixed dose combination ARV. I started the medication immediately. There were no waiting lists to see doctors and I was so thankful for the nurse’s help.”

Dhlomo said although he applauded the programme, more KZN nurses needed to be trained in Nimart.

“Those who have trained must become even more efficient so they can enrol more patients.

“We also need to increase the number of non-medical sites where medication is collected to help cope with the demand,” he said.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  health  |  nurses

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