SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
NYASULU, J C Y; MUCHIRI, E; MAZWI, S and RATSHEFOLA, M. NIMART rollout to primary healthcare facilities increases access to antiretrovirals in Johannesburg: An interrupted time series analysis. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2013, vol.103, n.4, pp. 232-236. ISSN 2078-5135.
INTRODUCTION: South Africa has made remarkable progress in rolling out antiretroviral therapy (ART), with the largest number of people (more than 1.4 million) enrolled on antiretrovirals in the world. Decentralisation of services to primary health centres (PHCs) has strengthened retention of patients on ART and reduced the burden of managing uncomplicated cases at referral hospitals. METHODS: This was a ten-step Nurse Initiatied Management of Antiretroviral Treatment (NIMART) rollout intervention in which nurses from 17 primary healthcare facilities of Region F, City of Johannesburg, South Africa, were trained and mentored in NIMART by the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Research Institute (WRHI) to commence patients on ART in their PHCs. A total of 20 535 patients initiated ART during the 30-month study period. Monthly initiations at both PHCs and referral clinics were monitored. To test the statistical significance of the impact of NIMART rollout on the referral hospital initiations and Region F monthly initiations, interrupted time series analysis was applied. FINDINGS: Ten-step NIMART rollout was applied, with the first step being establishment of NIMART as a priority in order to obtain primary buy-in by the Department of Health (DoH) and City of Johannesburg (CoJ). Forty-five professional nurses were trained in NIMART by WRHI quality improvement mentors. By the end of September 2011, all 17 PHCs in Region F were initiating patients on ART. Total initiations significantly increased by 99 patients immediately after NIMART rollout (p=0.013) and continued to increase by an average of 9 every month (p=0.013), while referral facility initiations decreased by 12 (p=0.791) immediately after NIMART and then decreased by an average of 18 every month (p=0.01). CONCLUSION: In this study, decentralisation of ART initiation by professional nurses was shown to increase ART uptake and reduce workload at referral facilities, enabling them to concentrate on complicated cases. However, it is important to ensure capacity building, training and mentoring of nurses to integrate HIV services in order to reduce workload and provide a comprehensive package of care to patients. Engaging and having buy-in from DoH/CoJ partners in rolling out NIMART was crucial in increasing outputs as well as for sustainability of the NIMART programme.