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Quality of antiretroviral therapy services in Ghana: Implications for the HIV response in resource-constrained settings.

Abstract

Objective

Number of People Living with Human Immune-deficiency Virus in Ghana is over 300,000 and unmet need for antiretroviral therapy is approximately 60%. This study sought to determine the quality of antiretroviral therapy services in selected ART sites in Ghana using the input-process-outcome approach.

Methods

This is a descriptive cross-sectional case study that employed modified normative evaluation to assess quality of antiretroviral therapy services in the Oti and Volta regions of Ghana among People Living with HIV (n = 384) and healthcare providers (n = 16). The study was conducted from 11 March to 9 May 2019.

Results

Resources for managing HIV clients were largely available with the exception of viral load machines, reagents for CD4 counts, and antifungals such as Fluconazole and Cotrimoxazole. Patients enrolled on antiretroviral therapy within 2 weeks was 71% and clients retained in care within 2 weeks of enrolment was 90%. Approximately 26% of enrolled clients recorded viral load suppression; 33% of People Living with HIV who were not insured with the National Health Insurance Scheme paid for some antiretrovirals and cotrimoxazole. Adherence to ART and Cotrimoxazole were 95% and 88%, respectively, using pill count on their last three visits. Time spent with clinical team was among the worst rated (mean = 2.98, standard deviation = 0.54) quality indicators by patients contrary to interpersonal relationship with health provider which was among the best rated (mean = 3.25, standard deviation = 0.41) indicators.

Conclusion

Observed quality care gaps could potentially reverse gains made in HIV prevention and control in Ghana if not addressed timely; an important value addition of this study is the novel application of input-process-outcome approach in the context of antiretroviral therapy services in Ghana. There is also the need for policy dialogue on inclusion of medications for prophylaxis in antiretroviral therapy on the National Health Insurance Scheme to promote adherence and retention.

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