Our Nurse of the Week is Chenai Mathabire, a 35-year-old Zimbabwean nurse and epidemiologist who received an International AIDS Society prize for showing that a faster tuberculosis test could be implemented in health centers throughout southeast Africa. Her work is expected to help save the lives of HIV-positive patients who contract tuberculosis.
Mathabire is the first nurse in her family, a career which has exposed her to dire health crises in Africa. After applying for a job at Doctors Without Borders, Mathabire helped diagnose malnourished children with HIV, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and malaria in Zimbabwe. She also supervised workers who were teaching HIV-positive pregnant women how to protect their children from the virus.
Mathabire emphases the importance of nursing educators, telling NPR.org, “Nursing is often looked down upon and people just think you are there to be the maid of the doctor or do the dirty work. But teachers made me realize that nurses have a big role to play.”
In 2015, Mathabire was recruited for her first research assignment at Doctors Without Borders, work that eventually won her the International AIDS Society prize according to NPR.org. She knew tuberculosis was the number one killer of HIV-positive patients, but she didn’t know that a rapid tuberculosis test existed until she read the study protocol. For two years, Mathabire and her team explored how health clinics and hospitals could implement the tuberculosis test for HIV patients who are more susceptible to the life-threatening infection. With a rapid tuberculosis test, sick patients could begin treatment the same day, often in less than an hour.
Mathabire still works for Doctors Without Borders and is considering furthering her research on HIV and tuberculosis. To learn more about Mathabire and her dedication to nursing research, visit here.
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