Husband and Wife Graduate with Masters
A Nigerian couple, Dr Nnaemeka Uzodike and his wife Uche graduated with Masters degrees in Family Medicine and Medical sciences, Microbiology respectively.
Dr Uzodike conducted research that highlighted the dangers of treatment failure in patients on anti-retroviral therapy being monitored by Primary health care clinics, titled: “Adherence to national HIV guidelines by a primary health care clinic in Kwazulu-Natal".
His research was a review of clinical records to assess how well nursing staff working in a primary health care clinic were adhering to guidelines put in place for monitoring patients on HIV treatment, their ability to detect patients who are not improving on HIV treatment and referring them promptly to designated hospitals for appropriate intervention.
It also assessed the prevalence of patients in the clinic who were already in treatment failure requiring intervention, and the trend over the period of study (one year).
Uzodike said the trend showed that the number of patients developing resistance to HIV treatment was increasing and that a significant number of them were not being detected and referred for intervention.
The study highlighted the problems faced by health workers, from health system (guidelines) being implemented without providing the required capacity, facility and support.
‘The monitoring of patients on HIV treatment is critical to ensure that these medications do not become ineffective which happens when patients take them incorrectly. Also there is an increased health burden when these patients are not detected early enough for corrective measures to be put in place. These patients acquire AIDS related diseases which are more difficult to treat, require longer hospital stay and more expensive medications,’ explained Uzodike.
He said this was already happening in our hospitals, ‘The nurses in the PHC, need to be supported by more training and staff to carry out this monitoring role. In the clinic of study, there were only 2 NIMART trained nurses overseeing over 1 600 patients.’
He said similar studies were conducted in Khayelitsha, and Lusikisiki assessing PHC functions in managing patients on HIV medication. However, none has highlighted the importance of detecting of patients with treatment failure and their management.
The study that was accepted for publication in the South African Family practice journal was supervised by Dr Andrew Ross, a renowned author and researcher in the field of Family Medicine, and a principal specialist, Dept of Family medicine, UKZN. His co- supervisor was Dr O. Habor, Chief Specialist, Area 3, Family medicine at Ngwelezane hospital.
Uzodike, a family physician by profession is currently doing clinical work as a medical officer and supervises interns and community service doctors at Ngwelezane Hospital.
‘I would love to get a post as a family physician, to apply what skills I have garnered over these years for service delivery,’ he added.
He is interested in health systems improvement. ‘A lot improvement in the health system can be made especially at the PHC and District level care if family physicians are used effectively.’
He is interested in research and is currently working with a senior family physician at Ngwelezane in collating data from routine statistics in the hospital for research.
The couple has two daughters. ‘We are both proud of our achievements. Despite long hours away from home, my older daughter still greets me with a smile each time I am home and says “you are the best dad ever.”