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n South African Medical Journal - Piloting a national laboratory electronic programme status reporting system in Ekurhuleni health district, South Africa : research
Background. The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) performs ~4 million CD4 tests per annum for the public health sector at 61 CD4 testing laboratories across South Africa. Currently, CD4 laboratory data captured do not differentiate between antiretroviral treatment (ART) and pre-ART care.
Methods. A cross-sectional study was undertaken to evaluate a redesigned Comprehensive Care, Management and Treatment of HIV and AIDS (CCMT) request form, incorporating a two-tick collection procedure linking the CD4 test request to patient CCMT programme status. Field testing was undertaken at three health facilities, where healthcare personnel were required to capture whether the CD4 count requested was a 'first-ever CD4', 'CD4 taken previously, not yet in ART care' or 'in ART care'. All data were extracted from the NHLS Corporate Data Warehouse and analysed using Microsoft Excel and Stata-12.
Results. A substantial increase in the number of request forms with a CCMT programme status (28.1% v. 84.4%) was reported pre- and post-implementation. Post-implementation data (N=1 004) revealed that 30.8% patients were ART naive ('first-ever CD4'), with 7.4% 'not yet on ART' (median CD4 counts of 150 and 328 cells/μL, respectively). Patients on ART comprised 61.9% of the study group (median CD4 count ~346 cells/μL). Sixty percent of patients were aged between 30 and 44 years, and females predominated (male/female ratio 0.7:1).
Conclusions. A simple modification to the CCMT request form can successfully facilitate collection of programme status. For national implementation, it would be advantageous to have a unique patient identifier to further enhance laboratory-based programmatic monitoring and evaluation.
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