Background Involving women in HIV programmes such as Prevention from Mother To Child Transmission of HIV is important because they are one of the most affected population groups. However, in rural settings PMTCT is a challenge lack easy access to health centres where they can be tested for HIV and for safer child births. This health service gap is filled-in by traditional birth attendants, who mostly lack adequate knowledge of HIV and how to prevent mother-child transmission.
Methods The Zambia Traditional Births Attendants Association conducted a workshop for Traditional Birth Attendants in the Eastern Province. 24 Traditional Birth Attendants, 5 chiefs and their wives, from 5 villages attended the workshop. Clinical staff from a health, approximately 150 Km away facilitated. Pre-and post-workshop questionnaires were administered.
Results 80% of the participants were aware of HIV but were not sure how to prevent it. 20% believed HIV was due to witchcraft. 72% did not see the wearing protective gear when helping women in labour as important. 97% were ignorant of HIV basic science. 93% had no idea of PMTCT. Myths and misconceptions included that children cannot get the HIV because they do not indulged in sex; that traditional medicine can treat and cure HIV/AIDS. The workshop noted the need to train Traditional Birth Attendants in PMTCT services counselling and oral rapid testing for HIV in pregnant women. The other need was training them how to administer single-dose Nevirapine to HIV positive pregnant women during labour and to their newborn babies.
Conclusion It is important to involve traditional birth attendant in HIV and PMTCT programmes stop the spread of HIV. Village health committees should be established were they do not exist and integrated with HIV and PMTCT services. Sustained provision of PMTCT and HIV testing kits, and follow-ups by health staff is needed.
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