Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

NHS Receives Grant to Expand AIDS Relief Programs in Africa

The School of Nursing and Health Studies is beginning to soar in southern Africa.

After receiving $300,000 in auxiliary grant money, which was announced last week, the school’s Nurses SOAR! program plans to increase its nurse training programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Founded in 2006 by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the program seeks to improve nursing capability in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care services. The recent grant money from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – a five year, $15 billion federal initiative founded in 2003 – will fund projects in South Africa and Lesotho, according to the GUMC Update, the Medical Center’s newsletter.

Out of the new grant money, $250,000 will be used to fund program activities in South Africa, while the remaining $50,000 will be used for similar projects already underway in Lesotho. The projects include clinical mentoring, leadership development, care training and loss and grief workshops for nurses.

Kevin Mallinson, an assistant professor in the NHS and principal investigator of the grant, said that three in every 10 adults in Lesotho, where he is working, suffer from HIV.

Mallinson said that continued funding will be required for the program’s enduring success, noting that nurses must be thoroughly taught the knowledge and skills required to care for patients.

“To build capacity means to keep the nurses they have there,” he said, “We go in as clinical mentors, side-by-side with the nurses day-by-day.”

Over the last year, Nurses SOAR! has also expanded to include undergraduate participation. Nursing students who apply and are admitted to the program may spend a semester during their senior year designing a research project to conduct in the field at one of the sites in Africa. Recent NHS graduate Caitlin Devlin (NHS ’07) went to South Africa last year with the Nurses SOAR! initiative.

Devlin visited one children’s ward in South Africa where she reported that approximately 4,000 children were treated in the 45-bed unit. She saw firsthand the challenges of the nursing workforce there, which she said “has been devastated by nurse emigration, shortage of resources and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

Nurses SOAR! plans to send seven more undergraduate nursing students to the developing project sites in January, Mallinson said.

Mallinson said he started the Nurses SOAR! program because of a deficiency he observed in nursing education in sub-Saharan Africa, the region of the world most severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“The goal is to increase the ability of nurses to contribute to the success of prevention, treatment and care services for persons with HIV/AIDS,” Mallinson said.

Nurses SOAR! plans to begin training nurses in Swaziland over the next year as well. As the program expands, Mallinson said he would seek to acquire more funding similar to the PEPFAR award for subsequent years of the larger grant period.

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