Addressing the critical need for pharmacist-based HIV/AIDS services in Southern Africa
I. Ichile1,2, N. Butts1, J. Holmes1, J. Alexander1, J. Barone1, H. Jimenez1
1Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Piscataway, United States, 2Secure the Future, Johannesburg, South Africa
Issues: The alarming incidence of HIV/AIDS in southern Africa has placed a severe strain on healthcare in the region. Contributing to the crisis is a shortage and increasing demand for trained healthcare professionals, particularly pharmacists. Number and complexity of patients have left little or no time for pharmacists to develop comprehensive pharmacy services. Described here are the challenges and achievements experienced by a PharmD resident in developing expanded pharmacy programs in southern Africa.
Description: A unique pharmacy residency entailing six months in southern Africa was created through partnership between Rutgers University and a major global pharmaceutical company´s philanthropic foundation. Experiences of the resident affirmed pharmacists' integral role in all levels of the WHO-defined global healthcare system. The resident developed capacity-building programs for the provision of pharmacy services beyond dispensing. These programs targeted enhancing patient counseling through HIV support group education, improving treatment management using a novel drug monitoring tool, and bolstering providers' practical knowledge through concept-driven and topic-specific presentations. These activities supported the benefit of pharmacist-run services in resource-limited settings.
Lessons learned: There is an acute need for pharmacists in the fight against HIV/AIDS in southern Africa. Skills transfer programs that utilize pharmacists' drug expertise and public health awareness are invaluable. The residency demonstrated that, to ensure sustainability, implementation of pharmacy-based programs for HIV/AIDS requires a design that incorporates stakeholders at all levels; national, local, and institutional. Formal evaluation of the residency by program beneficiaries, determined that services provided were greatly valued, with appeal for its continuation.
Next steps: Follow-up analysis of the drug monitoring tool, including coordination with pharmacy and data management personnel, is critical for program sustainability. Continued development of comprehensive care programs, involving collaboration with physicians on chart reviews and development of operational research strategies, will further improve care and foster government partnership for the future of southern Africa's healthcare.
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