Nurses in South Africa will soon take a more active role to address the country's epidemic of multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis (known as MDR-TB) and HIV, thanks to a $274,000 grant from the Medical Research Council of South Africa awarded to Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) infectious diseases researcher Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, CRNP.
The community-based participatory research study was developed in cooperation between Farley and the Department of Health in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The project will begin by educating nurses to diagnose and manage symptoms of MDR-TB and/or HIV treatment. Once training has been completed, Farley's research team will begin to enroll patients who are diagnosed and managed by the newly trained nurses. The treatment outcomes among the patients under the care of nurses will be followed and comparisons will be made against patients under the care of a physician.
"We know that physician-scarcity is not only a problem in primary care in the U.S.," Farley notes. "In rural KwaZulu Natal, a physician is available at some of the MDR-TB hospitals only once a week, and even less at primary health clinics. If we can adequately train nurses to diagnose and manage these complex conditions, then we have a real chance to reduce the morbidity and mortality in this region," he adds.
Farley is both a JHUSON faculty member and a nurse practitioner in the Division of Infectious Diseases within the Johns Hopkins AIDS Service. He also holds an adjunct faculty appointment at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa.