The Limpopo Department of Health says nurses who complete a specialist programme are an important weapon in the fight against HIV/Aids.
About 600 nursing students who completed the Nurse Initiated Management of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (NIMART) programme in June have been honoured by Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba in Polokwane.
NIMART offers comprehensive training for nurses working with HIV-positive patients, teaching them how to accept, diagnose and manage the patients.
According to the provincial department, the programme has transferred HIV-positive patients from hospitals to local primary health care facilities, which means patients are now able to collect medication at their local clinics.
The programme plays a significant role in increasing the life expectancy of HIV-positive patients and has helped make ARVs accessible at universities, colleges, correctional services facilities and non-medical sites in the province.
The Limpopo department said 3,787 nurses have completed the NIMART programme since it was launched in 2010.
The department’s spokesperson Neil Shikwambane said the programme was the brainchild of the national Department of Health “to train nurses so they are better equipped to handle HIV cases in our hospitals”.
MEC Ramathuba said Limpopo was on the right track in testing and initiating HIV treatment to those affected by the virus.
An edited version of this story was published by Health24.