Background: Poor uptake of ANC and PMTCT services at health facility level in rural areas of Nigeria remains a major challenge (National PMTCT Scale-Up Plan). To achieve elimination of paediatric HIV infection, interventions should work closely with communities to increase demand and utilization of ANC/PMTCT services among women of reproductive age. This abstract reviews efficacy of community interventions in increasing demand for ANC and PMTCT services in rural communities of Bayelsa State, Nigeria.
Description: Chevron Corporation funded Pact Nigeria to implement community based “PROMOT” project in Bayelsa State, Nigeria. The current phase of ''''PROMOT II'''' project is being implemented in 20 target communities in 3LGAs of Bayelsa State. To increase awareness on PMTCT services and influence positive health-seeking behavior, an integrated approach of peer-led women groups to carry out health promotion activities was employed in 20 target communities by the project. Targeting women of reproductive age, particularly pregnant women, Community Health Extension Workers paired up with women groups to support HIV and PMTCT education activities including accompanying pregnant women to nearby health facilities to access ANC/PMTCT services. Community level HIV Testing Services were introduced to complement temporary cessation of healthcare service provision at health centers due to health workers'' strike action.
Lessons learned: Over 19 months of Project implementation, a total of 11,528 women were reached with HIV/ANC/PMTCT messages. 3,106 women received counselling and testing for HIV at community outreach events, of which 1,736 (55.9%) were pregnant women. 29 (1.7%) of pregnant women tested HIV positive and have been linked to comprehensive care and treatment services. Number of pregnant women who received HIV counselling and testing for PMTCT at health facilities rose from 1,160 to 2,159(an 86% increase), while percentage of pregnant women who initiated ANC and completed four ANC visits increased by 25% (from 40% to 50 %) across 27 health facilities in 20 target communities.
Conclusions/Next steps: Outcome of this project has reinforced the effectiveness of community based PMTCT interventions in generating demand for increased uptake of ANC and PMTCT services in rural settings. Capacity of women''s groups should be strengthened to continue supporting sustainable community-based outreach interventions that generate demand for PMTCT services.