Introduction: At least 36 countries are suffering from severe shortages of healthcare workers and this crisis of human resources in developing countries is a major obstacle to scale-up of HIV care. We performed a case study to evaluate a health service delivery model where a task-shifting approach to HIV care had been undertaken with tasks shifted from doctors to nurses and community health workers in rural Haiti.
Methods: Data were collected using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods at three clinics in rural Haiti. Distribution of tasks for HIV services delivery; types of tasks performed by different cadres of healthcare workers; HIV program outcomes; access to HIV care and acceptability of the model to staff were measured.
Results: A shift of tasks occurred from doctors to nurses and to community health workers compared to a traditional doctor-based model of care. Nurses performed most HIV-related tasks except initiation of TB therapy for smear-negative suspects with HIV. Community health workers were involved in over half of HIV-related tasks. HIV services were rapidly scaled-up in the areas served; loss to follow-up of patients living with HIV was less than 5% at 24 months and staff were satisfied with the model of care.
Conclusion: Task-shifting using a community-based, nurse-centered model of HIV care in rural Haiti is an effective model for scale-up of HIV services with good clinical and program outcomes. Community health workers can provide essential health services that are otherwise unavailable particularly in rural, poor areas.