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Public Health Action. 2012 Dec 21;2(4):178-80. doi: 10.5588/pha.12.0018.

'Task shifting' in an antiretroviral clinic in Malawi: can health surveillance assistants manage patients safely?

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International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France ; The Lighthouse Trust, Lilongwe, Malawi.
The Lighthouse Trust, Lilongwe, Malawi ; International Training and Education Center for Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburg, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA.
The Lighthouse Trust, Lilongwe, Malawi ; Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK.
The Lighthouse Trust, Lilongwe, Malawi.


in English, French, Spanish

Malawi has a critical shortage of clinicians and nurses. This study evaluated whether health surveillance assistants (HSAs) could provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) efficiently and safely for stable patients. HSAs could identify patients with previously established criteria requiring clinical management, including ART initiates, children and patients on second-line treatment. HSAs were not capable of correctly identifying current complications, including potentially severe side effects and toxicities, and inappropriately referred stable patients to clinicians, reducing efficiency. While task shifting to HSAs appears promising, to be safe and efficient, additional clinical training is needed before potentially task shifting stable ART patient care to less skilled health care cadres.


AIDS; Malawi; antiretroviral treatment; quality care; task shifting

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