A.33.Working with Community Volunteers in implementing PMTCT of HIV in rural setting
Mwala, Jeffrey M.
Objectives and Scope: Shortage of trained health personnel is a significant problem that affects the provision of quality health services in Malawi. Embangweni Mission Hospital and its four health centres face the same challenge. The hospital HIV/AIDS team when implementing its PMTCT of HIV programme chose to train community volunteers as counselors. The result is an increase of VCT service providers, which has improved the programme performance.
Methodology:Before the implementation of the PMTCT of HIV programme community awareness meetings were conducted and attended by religious, traditional, political, business and other influential leaders in the catchment area. One of the issues for discussion was the role of community members in the programme. The community elected volunteers and the health personnel verified their capability and availability. Those that were successful were trained for one week on PMTCT of HIV by the hospital trainers and later for five weeks on VCT by the team from Malawi Association of Counselors at the hospital. Every health facility has trained health workers who monitor and support these counselors.
Results:There’re 45 trained community VCT counselors working with the overstretched health workers providing VCT services at static and out-reach centres. Since August, 2001 up to January, 2005, 8825 antenatal mothers have been pre-test counseled and approximately 90% by these community counselors.
Conclusion:Quality VCT can be provided by trained non-health members.
Community members are willing to volunteer their services for long term.
Community participation assists in motivating people for testing.
Monthly meetings are essential for support groups.
Refresher courses are important.
Provision of simple incentives is a motivation.