An assessment of the administration of the prevention of the mother to child transmission programme in Umgungundlovu District-KwaZulu-Natal.
This study assesses how the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme (PMTCT) is administered and implemented under three public health clinics within uMgungundlovu Health District in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The programme has a crucial role in reducing the mortality of babies owing to Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV. The study focuses on public health care processes aimed at the vulnerable population of women and children who attend public health care facilities. It was critical to investigate the extent to which the programme was accessible to all South Africans visiting public health facilities. Qualitative research methodology was employed in this study. In-depth interviews were carried out in three public health clinics falling under uMgungundlovu Health District. These interviews were carried out with health care professionals based at the facilities: patients receiving health care services within the maternity, antenatal and postnatal sections as well as the PMTCT Coordinators or Managers responsible for the implementation of guidelines, policies and protocols within the KZN Department of Health (KZN DOH). The findings of the study revealed that the three health care clinics possessed the PMTCT policies and protocols and the health care professionals knew how these had to be implemented though not in all three facilities. The majority of women received education on HIV/AIDS in all three facilities under study, and most knew how HIV was transmitted and how the transmissions could be avoided. About 90% of women who attended antenatal services were aware that an HIV positive mother could transmit the virus to her unborn child during pregnancy, birth, and through breastfeeding. The research, however, established that there were a range of implementation challenges. This includes a lack of sufficient consultation rooms, lack of human resources and difficulties arising during delivery process when dealing with stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in some communities. Further, the research established that defaulting patients who failed to take their medication made a notable impact on the smooth implementation of the programme. It was suggested that all health care professionals involved should receive training in the administration of the PMTCT programme. This would help to ensure that all patients are enrolled into the programme in time and that all staff knew how to implement the programme to the right people, and at the right time.