Integrated Maternal and Child Health Program Enables Mothers to Deliver HIV-Negative Babies

 {Photo credit: Ruth Omondi/MSH.}Two women beneficiares of the integrated HIV and MNCH program at the Mbeere District Hospital.Photo credit: Ruth Omondi/MSH.

Mbeere District Hospital, following USAID-funded LMS/Kenya support, increases the number of HIV-positive mothers delivering healthy babies

According to the Ministry of Health, 13,000 babies in Kenya are born HIV-positive each year, despite availability of proven methods to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus. One of these is integrating HIV care and treatment into maternal and child health services. In 2013, Mbeere District Hospital in Embu County decided to take this approach to reduce the number of children born with HIV in their facility. 

This decision was made by the hospital team, led by the Nursing Officer in Charge, when taking part in the six-month Leadership Development Program (LDP) offered by the Leadership, Management and Sustainability Program in Kenya, with funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). They set as their target enrolling at least 50 pregnant mothers into the integrated program in six months.

Using skills they learned in the LDP, the team members analyzed their environment and determined that mothers referred to the hospital’s HIV comprehensive care center (CCC) opted out of treatment owing to stigma. The LDP team decided to work with the CCC staff to create awareness about the availability of the services at the maternal and child health department; work with the hospital’s management team to allocate money and staff to implement the integrated program; partnered with the APHIAplus project to support the purchase of a CD4 machine; and created a psychosocial support group to help the mothers deal with stigma and ensure that they adhered to their treatment.

In just six months, the team enrolled 79 mothers in the integrated program, surpassing their target of 50. Of these 79 mothers, 78 delivered HIV-negative babies, and also saw their own health improve. As of May 2014, a total of 98 HIV-positive mothers had been enrolled in the program.

One mother said she has been transformed by the integrated services:

When I discovered that I was HIV-positive, I knew that I would give birth to a HIV-positive child and we would die soon after. But when I enrolled in the program, the nurse assured me that I would deliver a HIV-free baby and live long and healthy life. Look, my child is HIV-free and my health is good. I have never been happier.