[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this multi-country cluster-randomized behavioural intervention trial promoting exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) in Africa, we compared growth of infants up to 6 months of age living in communities where peer counsellors promoted EBF with growth in those infants living in control communities.
BMC Public Health 06/2014; 14(1):633. · 2.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Progress towards MDG4 for child survival in South Africa requires effective prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV including increasing exclusive breastfeeding, as well as a new focus on reducing neonatal deaths. This necessitates increased focus on the pregnancy and early post-natal periods, developing and scaling up appropriate models of community-based care, especially to reach the peri-urban poor.
We used a randomised controlled trial with 30 clusters (15 in each arm) to evaluate an integrated, scalable package providing two pregnancy visits and five post-natal home visits delivered by community health workers in Umlazi, Durban, South Africa. Primary outcomes were exclusive and appropriate infant feeding at 12 weeks post-natally and HIV-free infant survival.
At 12 weeks of infant age, the intervention was effective in almost doubling the rate of exclusive breastfeeding (risk ratio 1.92; 95% CI: 1.59-2.33) and increasing infant weight and length-for-age z-scores (weight difference 0.09; 95% CI: 0.00-0.18, length difference 0.11; 95% CI: 0.03-0.19). No difference was seen between study arms in HIV-free survival. Women in the intervention arm were also more likely to take their infant to the clinic within the first week of life (risk ratio 1.10; 95% CI: 1.04-1.18).
The trial coincided with national scale up of ARVs for PMTCT, and this could have diluted the effect of the intervention on HIV-free survival. We have demonstrated that implementation of a pro-poor integrated PMTCT and maternal, neonatal and child health home visiting model is feasible and effective. This trial could inform national primary healthcare reengineering strategies in favour of home visits. The dose effect on exclusive breastfeeding is notable as improving exclusive breastfeeding has been resistant to change in other studies targeting urban poor families.
Tropical Medicine & International Health 01/2014; · 2.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Data from a prospective multisite cohort study were used to examine the effect of HIV exposure, untreated HIV infection, and single-dose nevirapine on infant growth velocity. The 2009 WHO growth velocity standards constitute a new tool for this type of investigation and are in need of functional validation. In period 1 (3-24 wk), 65 HIV-infected, 502 HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU), and 216 HIV-unexposed infants were included. In period 2 (25-36 wk), 31 infants moved from the HEU group to the HIV-infected group. We compared weight velocity Z-scores (WVZ) and length velocity Z-scores (LVZ) by HIV group and assessed their independent influences. In period 1, mean WVZ (95% CI) was significantly (P < 0.001) lower in infected [-0.87 (-1.77, 0.04)] than HEU [0.81 (0.67, 0.94)] and unexposed [0.55 (0.33, 0.78)] infants. LVZ showed similar associations. In both periods, sick infants and those exposed to higher maternal viral loads had lower WVZ. Higher mean LVZ was associated with low birth weight. Infants that had received nevirapine had higher LVZ. In conclusion, HIV infection and not exposure was associated with low WVZ and LVZ in period 1. Eliminating infant HIV infection is a critical component in averting HIV-related poor growth patterns in infants in the first 6 mo of life.
Journal of Nutrition 11/2013; · 4.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sohni Dean and colleagues report their CHNRI exercise that developed health research priorities for effective pre-conception care in low- and middle-income countries. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
PLoS Medicine 09/2013; 10(9):e1001508. · 15.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Globally, 40% of the 7.6 million deaths of children under five every year occur in the neonatal period (first 28 days after birth). Increased and earlier recognition of illness facilitated by community health workers (CHWs), coupled with effective referral systems can result in better child health outcomes. This model has not been tested in a peri-urban poor setting in Africa, or in a high HIV context. METHODS: The Good Start Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) study (ISRCTN41046462) conducted in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, was a community randomized trial to assess the effect of an integrated home visit package delivered to mothers by CHWs during pregnancy and post-delivery on uptake of PMTCT interventions and appropriate newborn care practices. CHWs were trained to refer babies with illnesses or identified danger signs. The aim of this sub-study was to assess the effectiveness of this referral system by describing CHW referral completion rates as well as mothers' health-care seeking practices. Interviews were conducted using a structured questionnaire with all mothers whose babies had been referred by a CHW since the start of the SNL trial. Descriptive analysis was conducted to describe referral completion and health seeking behaviour of mothers. RESULTS: Of the 2423 women enrolled in the SNL study, 148 sick infants were referred between June 2008 and June 2010. 62% of referrals occurred during the first 4 weeks of life and 22% between birth and 2 weeks of age. Almost all mothers (95%) completed the referral as advised by CHWs. Difficulty breathing, rash and redness/discharge around the cord accounted for the highest number of referrals (26%, 19% and 17% respectively). Only16% of health workers gave written feedback on the outcome of the referral to the referring CHW. CONCLUSIONS: We found high compliance with CHW referral of sick babies in an urban South African township. This suggests that CHWs can play a significant role, within community outreach teams, to improve newborn health and reduce child mortality. This supports the current primary health care re-engineering process being undertaken by the South African National Department of Health which involves the establishment of family health worker teams including CHWs.Trial registration number: ISRCTN41046462.
BMC Health Services Research 02/2013; 13(1):47. · 1.77 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: Lack of universal, annual testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in health facilities suggests that expansion of HIV testing and counselling (HTC) to non-clinical settings is critical to the achievement of national goals for prevention, care and treatment. Consideration should be given to the ability of lay counsellors to perform home-based HTC in community settings. Methods: We implemented a community cluster randomized controlled trial of home-based HTC in Sisonke District, South Africa. Trained lay counsellors conducted door-to-door HIV testing using the same rapid tests used by the local health department at the time of the study (SD Bioline and Sensa). To monitor testing quality and counsellor skill, additional dry blood spots were taken and sent for laboratory-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated using the laboratory result as the gold standard. Results and discussion: From 3986 samples, the counsellor and laboratory results matched in all but 23 cases. In 18 cases, the counsellor judged the result as indeterminate, whereas the laboratory judged 10 positive, eight negative and three indeterminate, indicating that the counsellor may have erred on the side of caution. Sensitivity was 98.0% (95% CI: 96.3-98.9%), and specificity 99.6% (95% CI: 99.4-99.7%), for the lay counsellor field-based rapid tests. Both measures are high, and the lower confidence bound for specificity meets the international standard for assessing HIV rapid tests. Conclusions: These findings indicate that adequately trained lay counsellors are capable of safely conducting high-quality rapid HIV tests and interpreting the results as per the kit guidelines. These findings are important given the likely expansion of community and home-based testing models and the shortage of clinically trained professional staff.
Journal of the International AIDS Society 01/2013; 16(1):18744. · 3.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess the effect of home based HIV counselling and testing on the prevalence of HIV testing and reported behavioural changes in a rural subdistrict of South Africa.
Cluster randomised controlled trial.
16 communities (clusters) in uMzimkhulu subdistrict, KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa.
4154 people aged 14 years or more who participated in a community survey.
Lay counsellors conducted door to door outreach and offered home based HIV counselling and testing to all consenting adults and adolescents aged 14-17 years with guardian consent. Control clusters received standard care, which consisted of HIV counselling and testing services at local clinics.
Primary outcome measure was prevalence of testing for HIV. Other outcomes were HIV awareness, stigma, sexual behaviour, vulnerability to violence, and access to care.
Overall, 69% of participants in the home based HIV counselling and testing arm versus 47% in the control arm were tested for HIV during the study period (prevalence ratio 1.54, 95% confidence interval 1.32 to 1.81). More couples in the intervention arm had counselling and testing together than in the control arm (2.24, 1.49 to 3.03). The intervention had broader effects beyond HIV testing, with a 55% reduction in multiple partners (0.45, 0.33 to 0.62) and a stronger effect among those who had an HIV test (0.37, 0.24 to 0.58) and a 45% reduction in casual sexual partners (0.55, 0.42 to 0.73).
Home based HIV counselling and testing increased the prevalence of HIV testing in a rural setting with high levels of stigma. Benefits also included higher uptake of couple counselling and testing and reduced sexual risk behaviour.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN31271935.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The World Health Organization has produced clear guidelines for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, ensuring that all PMTCT programme components are implemented to a high quality in all facilities presents challenges.
Although South Africa initiated its PMTCT programme in 2002, later than most other countries, political support has increased since 2008. Operational research has received more attention and objective data have been used more effectively.
In 2010, around 30% of all pregnant women in South Africa were HIV-positive and half of all deaths in children younger than 5 years were associated with the virus.
Between 2008 and 2011, the estimated proportion of HIV-exposed infants younger than 2 months who underwent routine polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect early HIV transmission increased from 36.6% to 70.4%. The estimated HIV transmission rate decreased from 9.6% to 2.8%. Population-based surveys in 2010 and 2011 reported transmission rates of 3.5% and 2.7%, respectively.
CRITICAL ACTIONS FOR IMPROVING PROGRAMME OUTCOMES INCLUDED: ensuring rapid implementation of changes in PMTCT policy at the field level through training and guideline dissemination; ensuring good coordination with technical partners, such as international health agencies and international and local nongovernmental organizations; and making use of data and indicators on all aspects of the PMTCT programme. Enabling health-care staff at primary care facilities to initiate antiretroviral therapy and expanding laboratory services for measuring CD4+ T-cell counts and for PCR testing were also helpful.
Bulletin of the World Health Organisation 01/2013; 91(1):70-4. · 5.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted qualitative individual and combined interviews with couples to explore their experiences since the time of taking an HIV test and receiving the test result together, as part of a home-based HIV counselling and testing intervention.
This study was conducted in October 2011 in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, about 2 years after couples tested and received results together. Fourteen couples were purposively sampled: discordant, concordant negative and concordant positive couples.
Learning about each other's status together challenged relationships of the couples in different ways depending on HIV status and gender. The mutual information confirmed suspected infidelity that had not been discussed before. Negative women in discordant partnerships remained with their positive partner due to social pressure and struggled to maintain their HIV negative status. Most of the couple relationships were characterized by silence and mistrust. Knowledge of sero-status also led to loss of sexual intimacy in some couples especially the discordant. For most men in concordant negative couples, knowledge of status was an awakening of the importance of fidelity and an opportunity for behaviour change, while for concordant positive and discordant couples, it was seen as proof of infidelity. Although positive HIV status was perceived as confirmation of infidelity, couples continued their relationship and offered some support for each other, living and managing life together. Sexual life in these couples was characterized by conflict and sometimes violence. In the concordant negative couples, trust was enhanced and behaviour change was promised.
Findings suggest that testing together as couples challenged relationships in both negative and positive ways. Further, knowledge of HIV status indicated potential to influence behaviour change especially among concordant negatives. In the discordant and concordant positive couples, traditional gender roles exposed women's vulnerability and their lack of decision-making power.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e66390. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Breastfeeding is widely endorsed as the optimal strategy for feeding newborns and young infants, as well as improving child survival and achieving Millennium Development Goal 4. Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for the first 6 months of life is rarely practised in South Africa. Following the 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) infant feeding recommendations (EBF for HIV-positive mothers with maternal or infant antiretroviral treatment), South Africa adopted breastfeeding promotion as a National Infant Feeding Strategy and removed free formula milk from the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV programme. This study aimed to explore the perceptions of mothers and household members at community level regarding the value they placed on formula feeding and circumstances that drive the practice in a peri-urban community. We conducted in-depth interviews with HIV-positive and HIV-negative mothers in a community-randomised trial (Good Start III). Focus group discussions were held with grandmothers, fathers and teenage mothers. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. The following themes were identified; inadequate involvement of teenage mothers; grandmothers who become replacement mothers; fear of failing to practise EBF for 6 months; partners as formula providers and costly formula milk leading to risky feeding practices. The new South African Infant Feeding Strategy needs to address the gaps in key health messages and develop community-orientated programmes with a focus on teenage mothers. These should encourage the involvement of grandmothers and fathers in decision-making about infant feeding so that they can support EBF for optimal child survival.
Maternal and Child Nutrition 12/2012; · 2.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: In 2001, South Africa began implementing the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programme. This programme included distribution of free formula milk for infants up to 6 months of age at all public health facilities. Effective from 1 January 2011, KwaZulu-Natal became the first province to phase out free formula milk from its PMTCT programme. On 23 August 2011, the South African National Department of Health adopted promotion of exclusive breastfeeding as the national infant feeding strategy and made a decision to withdraw free formula milk from the PMTCT programme. OBJECTIVE: To explore the perceptions and understanding of households at community level on the policy decision to phase out free formula milk from the PMTCT programme in South Africa. METHODS: An exploratory qualitative study was conducted amongst women enrolled in a community randomized trial known as Good Start III. Focus group discussions were held with grandmothers, fathers and teenage mothers; and in-depth interviews were performed with HIV-positive and HIV-negative mothers. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: Identified themes included: (1) variations in awareness and lack of understanding of the basis for the policy change, (2) abuse of and dysfunctional policy as perceived reasons for policy change and (3) proposed strategies for communicating the policy change. CONCLUSION: There is an urgent need to develop a multifaceted communication strategy clearly articulating the reasons for the infant feeding policy change and promoting the new breastfeeding strategy. The communication strategy should take into account inputs from the community. With a supportive environment and one national infant feeding strategy, South Africa has an opportunity to reverse years of poor infant feeding practices and to improve the health of all children in the country.
Health Policy and Planning 11/2012; · 2.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Child cash transfers are increasingly recognised for their potential to reduce poverty and improve health outcomes. South Africa's child support grant (CSG) constitutes the largest cash transfer in the continent. No studies have been conducted to look at factors associated with successful receipt of the CSG. This paper reports findings on factors associated with CSG receipt in three settings in South Africa (Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal). METHODS: This study used longitudinal data from a community-based cluster-randomized trial (PROMISE EBF) promoting exclusive breastfeeding by peer-counsellors in South Africa (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00397150). 1148 mother-infant pairs were enrolled in the study and data on the CSG were collected at infant age 6, 12, 24 weeks and 18--24 months. A stratified cox proportional hazards regression model was fitted to the data to investigate factors associated with CSG receipt. RESULTS: Uptake of the CSG amongst eligible children at a median age of 22 months was 62% in Paarl, 64% in Rietvlei and 60% in Umlazi. Possessing a birth certificate was found to be the strongest predictor of CSG receipt (HR 3.1, 95% CI: 2.4 -4.1). Other factors also found to be independently associated with CSG receipt were an HIV-positive mother (HR 1.2, 95% CI: 1.0-1.4) and a household income below R1100(HR1.7, 95% CI: 1.1 -2.6). CONCLUSION: Receipt of the CSG was sub optimal amongst eligible children showing administrative requirements such as possessing a birth certificate to be a serious barrier to access. In the spirit of promoting and protecting children's rights, more efforts are needed to improve and ease access to this cash transfer program.
BMC International Health and Human Rights 10/2012; 12(1):24. · 1.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: HIV counselling and testing (HCT) is a critical gateway for addressing HIV prevention, and linking people to treatment, care, and support. Since national testing rates are often less than optimal, there is growing interest in expanding testing coverage through the implementation of innovative models such as home-based HIV counselling and testing (HBHCT). With the aim of informing scale up, this paper discusses client characteristics and acceptability of an HBHCT intervention implemented in rural South Africa. METHODS: Trained lay counsellors offered door-to-door rapid HIV testing in a rural sub-district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Household and client data were captured on cellular phones and transmitted to a web-based data management system. Descriptive analysis was undertaken to examine client characteristics, testing history, HBHCT uptake, and reasons for refusal. Chi-square tests were performed to assess the association between client characteristics and uptake. RESULTS: Lay counsellors visited 3,328 households and tested 75% (5,086) of the 6,757 people met. The majority of testers (73.7%) were female, and 57% had never previously tested. With regard to marital status, 1,916 (37.7%), 2,123 (41.7%), and 818 (16.1%) were single, married, and widowed, respectively. Testers ranged in age from 14 to 98 years, with a median of 37 years. Two hundred and twenty-nine couples received couples counselling and testing; 87.8%, 4.8%, and 7.4% were concordant negative, concordant positive, and discordant, respectively. There were significant differences in characteristics between testers and non-testers as well as between male and female testers. The most common reasons for not testing were: not being ready/feeling scared/needing to think about it (34.1%); knowing his/her status (22.6%), being HIV-positive (18.5%), and not feeling at risk of having or acquiring HIV (10.1%). The distribution of reasons for refusal differed significantly by gender and age. CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that HBHCT is acceptable in rural South Africa. However, future HBHCT programmes should carefully consider community context, develop strategies to reach a broad range of clients, and tailor intervention messages and services to meet the unique needs of different sub-groups. It will also be important to understand and address factors related to refusal of testing.
BMC Public Health 09/2012; 12(1):824. · 2.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Breastfeeding is a critical component of interventions to reduce child mortality. Exclusive breastfeeding practice is extremely low in South Africa and there has been no improvement in this over the past ten years largely due to fears of HIV transmission. Early cessation of breastfeeding has been found to have negative effects on child morbidity and survival in several studies in Africa. This paper reports on determinants of early breastfeeding cessation among women in South Africa. METHODS: This is a sub group analysis of a community-based cluster-randomized trial (PROMISE EBF) promoting exclusive breastfeeding in three South African sites (Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal) between 2006 and 2008 (ClinicalTrials.gov no: NCT00397150). Infant feeding recall of 22 food and fluid items was collected at 3, 6, 12 and 24 weeks postpartum. Women's experiences of breast health problems were also collected at the same time points. 999 women who ever breastfed were included in the analysis. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusting for site, arm and cluster, was performed to determine predictors of stopping breastfeeding by 12 weeks postpartum. RESULTS: By 12 weeks postpartum, 20% of HIV-negative women and 40% of HIV-positive women had stopped all breastfeeding. About a third of women introduced other fluids, most commonly formula milk, within the first 3 days after birth. Antenatal intention not to breastfeed and being undecided about how to feed were most strongly associated with stopping breastfeeding by 12 weeks (Adjusted odds ratio, AOR 5.6, 95% CI 3.4 - 9.5 and AOR 4.1, 95% CI 1.6 - 10.8, respectively). Also important was self-reported breast health problems associated with a 3-fold risk of stopping breastfeeding (AOR 3.1, 95%CI 1.7 - 5.7) and the mother having her own income doubled the risk of stopping breastfeeding (AOR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3 - 2.8). CONCLUSION: Early cessation of breastfeeding is common amongst both HIV-negative and positive women in South Africa. There is an urgent need to improve antenatal breastfeeding counselling taking into account the challenges faced by working women as well as early postnatal lactation support to prevent breast health problems.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We sought to investigate infant feeding practices amongst HIV-positive and -negative mothers (0-9 months postpartum) and describe the association between infant feeding practices and HIV-free survival.
Infant feeding data from a prospective observational cohort study conducted at three (of 18) purposively-selected routine South African PMTCT sites, 2002-2003, were analysed. Infant feeding data (previous 4 days) were gathered during home visits at 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32 and 36 weeks postpartum. Four feeding groups were of interest, namely exclusive breastfeeding, mixed breastfeeding, exclusive formula feeding and mixed formula feeding. Cox proportional hazards models were fitted to investigate associations between feeding practices (0-12 weeks) and infant HIV-free survival.
Six hundred and sixty five HIV-positive and 218 HIV-negative women were recruited antenatally and followed-up until 36 weeks postpartum. Amongst mothers who breastfed between 3 weeks and 6 months postpartum, significantly more HIV-positive mothers practiced exclusive breastfeeding compared with HIV-negative: at 3 weeks 130 (42%) versus 33 (17%) (p < 0.01); this dropped to 17 (11%) versus 1 (0.7%) by four months postpartum. Amongst mothers practicing mixed breastfeeding between 3 weeks and 6 months postpartum, significantly more HIV-negative mothers used commercially available breast milk substitutes (p < 0.02) and use of these peaked between 9 and 12 weeks. The probability of postnatal HIV or death was lowest amongst infants living in the best resourced site who avoided breastfeeding, and highest amongst infants living in the rural site who stopped breastfeeding early (mean and standard deviations: 10.7% ± 3% versus 46% ± 11%).
Although feeding practices were poor amongst HIV-positive and -negative mothers, HIV-positive mothers undertake safer infant feeding practices, possibly due to counseling provided through the routine PMTCT programme. The data on differences in infant outcome by feeding practice and site validate the WHO 2009 recommendations that site differences should guide feeding practices amongst HIV-positive mothers. Strong interventions are needed to promote exclusive breastfeeding (to 6 months) with continued breastfeeding thereafter amongst HIV-negative motherswho are still the majority of mothers even in high HIV prevalence setting like South Africa.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The low uptake of facility-based HIV counseling and testing (HCT) in South Africa, particularly amongst men and youth has hindered attempts to increase access to effective treatment and prevention strategies. Many barriers to HIV testing have been described including long waiting times, transport to reach facilities, fear of lack of confidentiality and health systems factors such as stock outs of HIV test kits. The aim of this study was to undertake a community survey to determine rates of HCT in a rural area in order to plan a community intervention.
A community-based survey was undertaken in 16 communities in Sisonke district, KwaZulu-Natal between September and November 2008. A total of 5821 individuals participated in the survey of which 66% were females. Gender specific mixed effects logistic regression models were used to describe differences in socio-economic characteristics, and their association with HIV testing histories.
Overall 1833 (32%) individuals in this rural area knew their HIV status. Prior testing was higher amongst women (39%) than amongst men (17%). Older men (> 24 years) were more likely to report having tested for HIV previously, with the highest likelihood (adjusted OR = 4.02; 95% CI: 2.71-5.99) among men in age group, 35-49 years. For women, age group 25-34 years had the highest likelihood of having been previously tested (adjusted OR = 1.30; 95% CI: 1.05-1.66). Being currently pregnant (adjusted OR 3.31; 95% CI: 2.29-4.78) or having a child under five (adjusted OR 7.00; 95% CI: 5.84-8.39) were also associated with prior HIV testing amongst women.
Overall, knowledge of HIV status in this rural sub-district is low. The relatively higher uptake of HIV testing among women is encouraging as it shows that PMTCT services are well functioning. However, these data suggest that there is an urgent need for scaling up HIV testing services in rural communities specifically targeting men and youth.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Progress towards MDG4 in South Africa will depend largely on scaling up effective prevention against mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and also addressing neonatal mortality. This imperative drives increasing focus on the neonatal period and particularly on the development and testing of appropriate models of sustainable, community-based care in South Africa in order to reach the poor. A number of key implementation gaps affecting progress have been identified. Implementation gaps for HIV prevention in neonates; implementation gaps for neonatal care especially home postnatal care; and implementation gaps for maternal mental health support. We have developed and are evaluating and costing an integrated and scaleable home visit package delivered by community health workers targeting pregnant and postnatal women and their newborns to provide essential maternal/newborn care as well as interventions for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.
The trial is a cluster randomized controlled trial that is being implemented in Umlazi which is a peri-urban settlement with a total population of 1 million close to Durban in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The trial consists of 30 randomized clusters (15 in each arm). A baseline survey established the homogeneity of clusters and neither stratification nor matching was performed. Sample size was based on increasing HIV-free survival from 74% to 84%, and calculated to be 120 pregnant women per cluster. Primary outcomes are higher levels of HIV free survival and levels of exclusive and appropriate infant feeding at 12 weeks postnatally. The intervention is home based with community health workers delivering two antenatal visits, a postnatal visit within 48 hours of birth, and a further four visits during the first two months of the infants life. We are undertaking programmatic and cost effectiveness analysis to cost the intervention.
The question is not merely to develop an efficacious package but also to identify and test delivery strategies that enable scaling up, which requires effectiveness studies in a health systems context, adapting and testing Asian community-based studies in various African contexts.