Maternal health care reduces the spread of HIV in rural Malawi
[2009-10-19] Free maternal health care services in rural Malawai have resulted in more HIV-positive women giving birth in hospitals and the better compliance of prescription of preventive antiviral agents. Hospital care therefore reduces the risk mother to child transmission of HIV. This has been demonstrated in a new doctoral dissertation by Fyson Kasenga, which he will be publicly defending at Umeå University in Sweden on Friday 23 October.
Women in poorly resourced settings have difficulties in accessing maternal services. Consequently, most of them deliver babies at home, which increase the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV among women who are HIV-positive. Free maternal services increase rates of hospital delivery and compliance with antiretroviral prophylaxis by HIV-positive women before delivery and for their babies shortly afterwards. Hospital delivery for HIV positive women therefore reduces the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Women in developing countries continue to deliver at home for many reasons. These include lack of transportion, tradition, gender inequalities and negative attitudes of health care staff among other factors. However, poverty remains the root cause of women’s poor utilisation of maternal care.
Fyson Kasenga used an operational research approach in studying HIV-positive women’s experiences of antenatal care, treatment by health care staff and community attitudes. Pregnant HIV-positive women were followed up from antenatal care to delivery and beyond, using antenatal, prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme (PMTCT) and delivery registers.
The dissertation demonstrates that the introduction of progressive policies in antenatal care was associated with increased uptake of services by marginalised communities. In the context of rural Malawi, where this study was done, integration of all necessary maternal services, coupled with favourable policies, led to increases in service uptake by disadvantaged women and consequent reduction of preventable maternal and infant mortality. Rural communities, positive attitudes among health care staff and availability of resources at health facilities all need to be up to the task of meeting increasing demands whenever new policies are introduced.
Fyson Kasenga can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via mobile telephone: +46 (0)70-692 86 46.
On Friday the 23rd of October, Fyson Kasenga, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health at Umeå University, will publicly defend his dissertation entitled ‘Making it happen: Prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV in rural Malawi’. The defence will take place at 9:00 am in room 260, Radiology, Umeå University Hospital, Umeå. The faculty opponent is Professor Thorkild Tylleskår, Centre for International Health, Bergen, Norway.
The dissertation is published electronically at:
Editor: Bertil Born
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