Nigerian PEPFAR Fellow Decreases HIV-Test Turnaround Time by 80 Percent

John Tiva Joseph. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

USAID-funded PEPFAR Health Professionals Fellow and laboratory scientist, John Tiva Joseph, returned home from his training determined to improve HIV diagnostic services at his laboratory. Joseph shared what he learned as a PEPFAR Fellow with his antiretroviral therapy (ART) team at General Hospital, Michika, in Adamawa State, Nigeria. He promoted new approaches to teamwork, emotional intelligence, communication skills, and passionate service.

Together the team incorporated and applied these skills toward decreasing patient waiting time for laboratory tests and results.

"We used to have clinic days for sample collection just twice a week, which coincided with the ART clinic schedule," Joseph said. The ART clinic is supported by Management Sciences for Health's Prevention Organizational Systems AIDS Care and Treatment (ProACT) Project, in Garkida Hospital.

"Then we thought, 'Why not run the laboratory clinic as a routine service?' So we started running preliminary investigation -- such as CD4 count and hematology tests -- daily," he explained.

Turnaround time for test results has improved by nearly 86 percent on average since 2010. Consequently patients' waiting time for test results decreased from two weeks to four hours.

"It now takes us two to three hours to produce CD4 count or viral load results, and an average of four to five hours for the client to get the results," Joseph added.

Now patients receive almost immediate treatment and patients who previously would have been lost to follow-up are seen within two days. Some patients are placed on ART on the same day they receive their test result.

Patients attending the ART clinic appreciate the improvements. "I get my results for CD4 count and other tests the same day now, which frees up my time" says client Faeimatu Abubakar. "I am able to do my domestic duties, focus on my business as a trader, and have time for myself. I really enjoy their services." She added, "Now I feel whole, because I am treated like a human being."

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