Shifting tasks from pharmacy to non-pharmacy personnel for providing antiretroviral therapy to people living with HIV: A systematic review and meta-analysis


OBJECTIVES: Lay people or non-pharmacy health workers with training could dispense antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-constrained countries, freeing up time for pharmacists to focus on more technical tasks. We assessed the effectiveness of such task-shifting in low-income and middle-income countries. METHOD: We conducted comprehensive searches of peer-reviewed and grey literature. Two authors independently screened search outputs, selected controlled trials, extracted data and resolved discrepancies by consensus. We performed random-effects meta-analysis and assessed certainty of evidence using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. RESULTS: Three studies with 1993 participants met the inclusion criteria, including two cluster trials conducted in Kenya and Uganda and an individually randomised trial conducted in Brazil. We found very low certainty evidence regarding mortality due to the low number of events. Therefore, we are uncertain whether there is a true increase in mortality as the effect size suggests, or a reduction in mortality between pharmacy and non-pharmacy models of dispensing ART (risk ratio (RR) 1.86, 95% CI 0.44 to 7.95, n=1993, three trials, very low certainty evidence). There may be no differences between pharmacy and non-pharmacy models of dispensing ART on virological failure (risk ratio (RR) 0.92, 95% CI 0.73 to 1.15, n=1993, three trials, low certainty evidence) and loss to follow-up (RR 1.13, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.91, n=1993. three trials, low certainty evidence). We found some evidence that costs may be reduced for the patient and health system when task-shifting is undertaken. CONCLUSIONS: The low certainty regarding the evidence implies a high likelihood that further research may find the effects of the intervention to be substantially different from our findings. If resource-constrained countries decide to shift ART dispensing and distribution from pharmacy to non-pharmacy personnel, this should be accompanied by robust monitoring and impact evaluation


Mbeye NM, Adetokunboh O, Negussie E, Kredo T, Wiysonge CS




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Retention in care
    • Treatment
  • Health Systems
    • Financial arrangements
    • Delivery arrangements


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