Introduction Interpret perceptions of Colombian health professionals concerning factors that obstruct and facilitate the introduction of rapid syphilis and HIV testing in prenatal care services.
Methods A qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews was carried out. A convenience sample was selected with 37 participants, who included health professionals involved in prenatal care services, programs for pregnant women, clinical laboratories, and directors of health care units or centres, as well as representatives from regional departments and the Ministry of Health.
Results Colombia does not do widespread screening with rapid syphilis and HIV tests in prenatal care. The professionals interviewed stated they did not have prior experience in the use of rapid tests—except for laboratory staff—or in the course of action in response to a positive result. The insurance system hinders access to timely diagnosis and treatment. Health authorities perceive a need to review existing standards, strengthen the first level of care, and promote comprehensive prenatal care starting with contracts between insurers and health service institutional providers. Participants recommended staff training and integration between health-policymaking and academic entities for updating training programs
Conclusion The market approach and the characteristics of the Colombian health system constitute the main barriers to implementation of rapid testing as a strategy for elimination of mother-to-child transmission of syphilis and HIV. Measures identified include making changes in contracts between insurers and health service institutional providers, adapting the timing and duration of prenatal care procedures, and training physicians and nurses involved in prenatal care.
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