How to Integrate HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Namibia, the Epako Clinic Case Study
During the past two decades, HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health services in Namibia have been provided in silos, with high fragmentation. As a consequence of this, quality and efficiency of services in Primary Health Care has been compromised.
The authors conducted an operational research (observational pre-post study) in a public health facility in Namibia. A health facility assessment was conducted before and after the integration of health services. A person-centred integrated model was implemented to integrate all health services provided at the health facility in addition to HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health services. Comprehensive services are provided by each health worker to the same patients over time (longitudinality), on a daily basis (accessibility) and with a good external referral system (coordination). Prevalence rates of time flows and productivity were done.
Results: Integrated services improved accessibility, stigma and quality of antenatal care services by improving the provider-patient communication, reducing the time that patients stay in the clinic in 16% and reducing the waiting times in 14%. In addition, nurse productivity improved 85% and the expected time in the health facility was reduced 24% without compromising the uptake of TB, HIV, outpatient, antenatal care or first visit family planning services.
The study demonstrates that HIV and SRH services can be effectively integrated by following the person-centred integrated model. Based on the Namibian experience on “how” to integrate health services and the “process” to achieve it, other African countries can replicate the model to move away from the silo approach and contribute to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage.