BMJ open 2018 03 228(3) e020754 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020754
To explore the roles of community cadres in improving access to and retention in care for PMTCT (prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV) services in the context of PMTCT Option B+ treatment scale-up in high burden low-income and lower-middle income countries.
Qualitative rapid appraisal study design using semistructured in-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) between 8 June and 31 July 2015.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS
Interviews were conducted in the offices of Ministry of Health Staff, Implementing partners, district offices and health facility sites across four low-income and lower-middle income countries: Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi and Uganda. A range of individual interviews and FGDs with key stakeholders including Ministry of Health employees, Implementation partners, district management teams, facility-based health workers and community cadres. A total number of 18, 28, 31 and 83 individual interviews were conducted in Malawi, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC and Uganda, respectively. A total number of 15, 9, 10 and 16 mixed gender FGDs were undertaken in Malawi, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC and Uganda, respectively.
Community cadres either operated solely in the community, worked from health centres or in combination and their mandates were PMTCT-specific or included general HIV support and other health issues. Community cadres included volunteers, those supported by implementing partners or employed directly by the Ministry of Health. Their complimentary roles along the continuum of HIV care and treatment include demand creation, household mapping of pregnant and lactating women, linkage to care, infant follow-up and adherence and retention support.
Community cadres provide an integral link between communities and health facilities, supporting overstretched health workers in HIV client support and follow-up. However, their role in health systems is neither standardised nor systematic and there is an urgent need to invest in the standardisation of and support to community cadres to maximise potential health impacts.