Canadian Nurses Association to Help South African Nurses Cope With Stress of Caring for HIV/AIDS Patients
August 4, 2004
The Canadian Nurses Association has launched a four-year, $2.27 million program to help South African nurses deal with the "extreme" levels of stress, anxiety and unhappiness they feel in caring for HIV/AIDS patients, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports. Nurses account for 75% of health care workers in South Africa, which has the largest number of HIV-positive people of any country worldwide. Approximately one in eight nurses in South Africa is HIV-positive, and many are too ill to work, have left the country for jobs in Canada or Britain or have left the profession entirely. The CNA program, which is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency, aims to improve nurses' access to mental health services; develop a training curriculum about HIV/AIDS care; and help nurses become involved in health policy development. Themeka Gwagwa, head of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, said that many more nurses are being assigned to medical posts than surgical rotations. "You have to be there, because you have to be next to people when they are dying. And then imagine the impact of that on you as a nurse. It demoralizes you so much. You personalize it (and think), 'Maybe it's because I don't care enough,'" Gwagwa said. June Webber, CNA's director of international development, said, "I'm struck by the sorrow, the sense of loss of nurses as educated professionals coming out of four or five years of training, with a sense of what they could do and then the magnitude of the problem -- the shortage of staff and resources." Gwagwa said that she hopes a more standardized AIDS program for nurses in South Africa will provide a reason for them to remain in the country, according to the Globe and Mail (Nolen, Globe and Mail, 8/3).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.