Journal Article

The impact of HIV/SRH service integration on workload: Analysis from the Integra Initiative in two African settings

Background
There is growing interest in integration of HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services as a way to improve the efficiency of human resources (HR) for health in low- and middle-income countries. Although this is supported by a wealth of evidence on the acceptability and clinical effectiveness of service integration, there is little evidence on whether staff in general health services can easily absorb HIV services.

Methods
We conducted a descriptive analysis of HR integration through task shifting/sharing and staff workload in the context of the Integra Initiative—a large-scale five-year evaluation of HIV/SRH integration. We describe the level, characteristics and changes in HR integration in the context of wider efforts to integrate HIV/SRH, and explore the impact of HR integration on staff workload.

Results
Improvements in the range of services provided by staff (HR integration) were more likely to be achieved in facilities which also improved other elements of integration. While there was no overall relationship between integration and workload at the facility level, HIV/SRH integration may be most influential on staff workload for provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) and postnatal care (PNC) services, particularly where HIV care and treatment services are being supported with extra SRH/HIV staffing. Our findings therefore suggest that there may be potential for further efficiency gains through integration, but overall the pace of improvement is slow.

Conclusions
This descriptive analysis explores the effect of HIV/SRH integration on staff workload through economies of scale and scope in high- and medium-HIV prevalence settings. We find some evidence to suggest that there is potential to improve productivity through integration, but, at the same time, significant challenges are being faced, with the pace of productivity gain slow. We recommend that efforts to implement integration are assessed in the broader context of HR planning to ensure that neither staff nor patients are negatively impacted by integration policy.