INTRODUCTION: HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) testing is not routinely available in many resource-limited settings, therefore, antiretroviral therapy (ART) program and site factors known to be associated with HIVDR should be monitored to optimize the quality of patient care and minimize the emergence of preventable HIVDR.
METHODS: In 2009, Namibia selected 5 World Health Organization Early Warning Indicators (EWIs) and piloted abstraction at 9 ART sites: "ART prescribing practices, patients lost to follow-up at 12 months, patient retention on first-line ART at 12 months, on-time antiretroviral drug pick-up, and antiretroviral drug-supply continuity".
RESULTS: Records supported monitoring of 3 of 5 selected EWIs. Nine of 9 (100%) sites met the target of 100% initiated on appropriate first-line regimens. Eight of 9 (89%) sites met the target of ≤20% lost to follow-up, although 20.8% of ART starters (range: 4.6%-44.6%) had a period of absence without documented ART coverage of 2.3 months (range: 1.5-3.9 months). Six of 9 (67%) sites met the target of 0% switched to a second-line regimen.
CONCLUSIONS: EWI monitoring directly resulted in public health action which will optimize the quality of care, specifically the strengthening of ART record systems permitting monitoring of 5 EWIs in future years and protocols for improved ART patient defaulter tracing.