Prevention-of-Mother-To-Child-Transmission of HIV Services in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Qualitative Analysis of Healthcare Providers and Clients Challenges in Ghana

Laar AK, Amankwa B, Asiedu C (2014)



Developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, the correct adaptation and implementation of the global guidelines on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV is critical. This study explored the challenges that health workers face implementing WHO’s PMTCT guidelines, and the experiences of HIV-positive clients receiving these services.


We interacted with 14 health professionals, and 16 PMTCT clients through in-depth interviews. Four of seven PMTCT sites within the Accra Metropolis were purposively included. Interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed, analyzed, and then sorted into themes.


Health workers had challenges translating PMTCT guidelines into useful messages for their clients. Their counselling was often prescriptive. Counselors identified inadequate in-service training as a key reason for their out-dated and inconsistent messages. HIV-positive clients exhibited general knowledge about the importance of doing exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months of life. Clients had confidence in antiretroviral for PMTCT. However, deeply rooted socio-cultural practices and the attitudes of counselors remain challenges to clients.

Conclusions and Global Health Implications:

Counselors require refresher training which addresses, among other things, long-held socio-cultural practices. Publicizing these challenges will prod policy makers and program implementers to develop strategies that address the challenges both locally and globally.

Keywords: HIV, Service providers, Clients, PMTCT, Challenges

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