Dr. Miranda Law, a pharmaceutical supply chain and logistics expert from Howard University, traveled to Durban the week of February 25th to provide consultation to NCD-LINK project partners as screening activities kick off in Umlazi this month.
Dr. Law visited 4 of the project facilities during her time in Durban and spoke with patients, nursing staff, pharmacy assistants, and facility managers. Dr. Law worked with patients and personnel to better understand the existing practices for managing and dispensing medicines, educating patients about their medicines, utilizing community pick up points. The project team plans to incorporate findings from this work to strengthen existing plans and build opportunities to support the Department of Health in its priorities to integrate service delivery across disease areas.
Dr. Law also presented on the importance of healthy eating and medication management to a group of over 45 participants at the NCD-LINK workshop held in Durban. This workshop was hosted by IRD-South Africa, implementation lead for the NCD-LINK project, and focused on the integrated care model for screening and linking patients to treatment for tuberculosis (TB) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This workshop was attended by program staff, dieticians, nursing managers from project facilities, district coordinators from KwaZulu-Natal, and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Director of NCDs, among several other key leaders from the Department of Health for NCDs and TB.
The workshop and Dr. Law’s visit occurred in preparation for the official kick-off of activities for NCD-LINK, a collaborative project between Advance Access & Delivery, IRD-South Africa, the South African Medical Research Council, and the South African Department of Health to conduct community-based, integrated screening and linkage to care for TB and NCDs including diabetes and hypertension.
Pharmaceutical care serves as a vital element to the success of the NCD-LINK project. This trip highlighted the need to better understand how the existing pharmaceutical care system operates as the project considers opportunities to provide support to staff and patients across several core project areas including patient education, use of community pick-up points to collect medicines, enrollment of patients on chronic medication dispensing programs, and supporting facility and project staff as they roll out integrated screening and linkage to care programs in Umlazi.
This project presents a critical opportunity to support the Department of Health in its efforts to screen and link patients to treatment in eThekwini. The lessons learned from Dr. Law’s visit and from the NCD-LINK project will be shared widely with partners at both the District and Provincial Department of Health to inform integrated health care delivery in Durban and beyond.