Resources and infrastructure for the delivery of antiretroviral therapy at primary health
There are concerns as to whether South Africa\'s public health system has sufficient resources, human and otherwise, to ensure universal access to antiretroviral treatment (ART). We report on public sector implementation of the Comprehensive Care Management and Treatment (CCMT) programme in the Free State Province, South Africa, in particular whether the primary health care (PHC) infrastructure was able to mobilise the necessary inputs to effectively provide ART, without undermining other services within facilities. A longitudinal study was conducted of the first 16 PHC facilities accredited to provide ART in the province. The facilities were visited on three occasions over 2 years, involving both structured and open-ended interviews with professional and lay staff, and observations of available resources. The resources assessed were staffing, space, essential equipment, drug supplies and laboratory systems. Approximately one-fifth (20%) of professional nurses were allocated to the CCMT programme in the facilities, although the overall number of professional nurses increased by only 14%. This process resulted in some displacement of professional nurses towards the CCMT Programme away from other services in the facilities. However, this could have been partially compensated for by task shifting towards community health workers and the appointment of additional support staff. Staff were largely positive about the programme. Drug supplies, availability of equipment and laboratory systems, although good at the baseline, improved further over the period of observation. The lack of adequate space to accommodate the new programme was a frequently reported problem. Overall, our assessment is that the PHC infrastructure in the Free State\'s public health system is capable of implementing and benefiting from the CCMT programme. Nevertheless, constraints in the availability of professional staff threaten future implementation of both the CCMT and other PHC programmes.
Keywords: Resources, infrastructure, antiretroviral therapy, primary health care facilities.
SAHARA-J Vol. 5 (3) 2008: pp.106-112