“Go slow”

6 10 2010

By Paul Sonenthal

So most of my research will be taking place in clinics known as IDCCs. These are specialized outpatient clinics for HIV care where patients are started on antiretrovirals (medicines for HIV) as well as monitored over time. These are also the places where patients are enrolled and interviewed for our study.

Because the IDCCs are so important to my work, I was very interested to find out about “go slow,” a protest by Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions, which includes nurses working at the IDCCs.

Although this is a large coordinated slowdown by workers throughout the public sector, there are also actions specific to healthcare. As I understand it, the nurses are frustrated by being expected to perform unpaid tasks such as blood draws, while other healthcare workers are paid to do so. So, as part of the “go slow,” nurses refused to draw blood. That left only one out of the five IDCCs in Gaborone where patients could get their blood drawn. The catch is that in order to start antiretrovirals, patients are required to results from certain laboratory tests. This meant that every patient in Gaborone needing to start antiretrovirals had to first go to their local IDCC, then a different IDCC for a blood draw and finally back to their local IDCC to get the medications. Although this definitely has caused a slowdown in enrollment for our study, the much greater problem is the additional delays getting patients on antiretrovirals. Luckily, a temporary truce was announced last week. Hopefully, the unions and government will be able to work things out.

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