Nurses and clinical officers know exactly when antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS should be started for a patient.
Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Human Resources for Health suggest that this should ease the strain on overstretched doctors in sub-Saharan Africa and thereby help increase access to antiretroviral therapy, particularly in rural areas.
Ashwin Vasan, from the University of Michigan and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, worked with a team of researchers in 12 Ugandan clinics to assess the degree of agreement between NPCs' decisions and those made by fully trained doctors. He said, "Nurses and clinical officers showed moderate to almost perfect agreement with physicians in their final ART recommendations. Considering that the scarcity of physicians in sub-Saharan Africa is constraining access to HIV treatment, particularly in rural clinics staffed only by NPCs, our results could lead to immediate benefits with respect to ART scale-up and decentralization."