South African nursing officials discuss
impact of health care shortage on continents AIDS crisis
by Caroline Sheen
African nursing officials discuss the AIDS epidemic and shortage
of nurses in their country with students and faculty at a
School of Nursing brown bag luncheon Feb. 27.
By Katherine Thompson Jackson
forward, the leader of a South African delegation visiting U.Va.
whispered to student Meriwether Anderson.
you want to come to South Africa?
I lived there three months, and I want to return to pursue a career
in international health care, said the fourth-year student.
is just what the nurses ordered.
South African officials visited U.Va.s School
of Nursing last month to observe and exchange ideas about
management techniques, including how to effectively recruit nurses
to help deal with the AIDS crisis.
to see their first snowstorm, the one-man, five-women nursing
team from the sweltering province of Limpopo discussed the challenges
facing their countrys health-care system at a brown bag
lunch hosted by the nursing school.
along with other students and nursing faculty, heard disturbing
descriptions of the impact of South Africas nursing shortage.
The visitors described the extreme shortage of health-care workers
and supplies and how that impacts caring for people with AIDS
and other patients. A majority of the 25.3 million Africans infected
with AIDS wont get the best available treatment, and as
a result many will die, they said.
Mabuda, manager of nursing services at Tshiwozini Hospital, detailed
the urgent need for implementing retention efforts. We are
experiencing a brain drain. South African doctors
and nurses are leaving in large numbers to practice in richer
countries. Professionals are leaving because of working conditions
and low pay.
South African official reported losing almost half the nurses
in her hospital because of financial problems. The exodus of experienced
nurses has made an already desperate situation more difficult.
Because doctors are scarce, nurses have become more experienced
at treating and diagnosing patients, and a residual benefit has
been highly experienced nurses. This high level of training is
why South African nurses are in great demand, and the cream of
the crop are first to go, the team reported.
nurses are familiar with critical issues such as providing medical
care that is outside the scope of nursing and dealing with the
ethical dilemmas that exist if they withheld those treatments,
said Dr. Tina Brashers, associate professor of nursing at U.Va.
Brashers helped coordinate the teams visit.
connections with U.Va.s Southern Africa/Virginia Networks
and Associations (SAVANA) consortium and Center for Regional Environmental
Studies, the team was eager to exchange ideas with Virginia professionals.
As part of the continuing development of the consortium, the visit
was a positive exchange of experiences and expertise in nursing
education, training, management and retention issues, said Bob
Swap, a U.Va. environmental scientist involved in the SAVANA project.
Africa is an extremely important region for collaborations,
said Jeffrey Plank, assistant vice president for research. We
want to establish infrastructures that will help southern Africa
build its fate through good decisions and policy making.