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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014 Dec 1;67 Suppl 4:S195-201. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000371.

Community health workers to improve antenatal care and PMTCT uptake in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: a quantitative performance evaluation.

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*Familia Salama Trial Unit, Management and Development for Health, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; †Department of Global Health and Population, and Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (D.S.), Harvard School of Public Health, Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA; ‡PMTCT Department, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; §Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; ‖Department of Infectious Diseases, Karolinska University Hospital, Karolinskavägen, Solna, Stockholm, Sweden; and ¶Wellcome Trust Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, Mtubatuba, South Africa.



Home visits by community health workers (CHW) could be effective in identifying pregnant women in the community before they have presented to the health system. CHW could thus improve the uptake of antenatal care (ANC), HIV testing, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services.


Over a 16-month period, we carried out a quantitative evaluation of the performance of CHW in reaching women early in pregnancy and before they have attended ANC in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


As part of the intervention, 213 CHW conducted more than 45,000 home visits to about 43,000 pregnant women. More than 75% of the pregnant women identified through home visits had not yet attended ANC at the time of the first contact with a CHW and about 40% of those who had not yet attended ANC were in the first trimester of pregnancy. Over time, the number of pregnant women the CHW identified each month increased, as did the proportion of women who had not yet attended ANC. The median gestational age of pregnant women contacted for the first time by a CHW decreased steadily and significantly over time (from 21/22 to 16 weeks, P-value for test of trend <0.0001).


A large-scale CHW intervention was effective in identifying pregnant women in their homes early in pregnancy and before they had attended ANC. The intervention thus fulfills some of the conditions that are necessary for CHW to improve timely ANC uptake and early HIV testing and PMTCT enrollment in pregnancy.

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