Original Research

The role of community volunteers in PMTCT programme: Lessons from selected sites in Zambia to strengthen health education on infant feeding and follow-up of HIV-positive mother-infant pair

Alice Ngoma-Hazemba, Busisiwe P. Ncama
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 10, No 1 | a1665 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1665 | © 2018 Alice Ngoma-Hazemba, Busisiwe P. Ncama | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 October 2017 | Published: 18 June 2018

About the author(s)

Alice Ngoma-Hazemba, School of Public Health, University of Zambia, Zambia
Busisiwe P. Ncama, School of Nursing and Public Health, Howard College Campus, South Africa, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Background: A global debate surrounding health care delivery at the lowest level of the community has aroused interest among researchers. In settings where skilled health workforce is scarce, the community relies on volunteers to provide care.

Aim: To explore the role of community-based volunteers (CBVs) and their perspectives on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and infant feeding to gain insights into the implementation of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) interventions at community level.

Setting: The study was conducted in Lusaka using Ngombe and Chelstone health facilities to recruit participants. Fieldwork took place from January 2014 to September 2014.

Methods: An exploratory descriptive qualitative study employing focus group discussions was conducted with CBVs. Convenient sampling was used to recruit 10 participants from each site. All transcribed interviews were imported into the Nvivo 10 for open coding and analysis.

Results: Although the role of community volunteers was to support and teach mothers on infant feeding in relation to HIV, the known cultural norms and practices had a bearing on how they tailored their information on breastfeeding to mothers. However, their link of the community to the health facilities cannot be overemphasised in these settings.

Conclusion: The role of community volunteers in PMTCT interventions can be strengthened by improving their training through use of appropriate educational materials and support of required resources. Lessons from these sites can inform future research to design communitybased interventions and develop health education materials that are sensitive to cultural norms and practices in this and similar settings.


community approaches; mother-to-child transmission of HIV; exclusive breastfeeding; cultural norms and practices; health care delivery


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