Preventing mother to child transmission of AIDS in Africa is a vexing and complex issue, particularly in remote rural areas. Pregnant women must walk many miles to rural health outposts for HIV testing and pre-natal care. If the mothers are AIDS positive they must deliver in a health facility so that their babies can be immediately inoculated and spared the disease.
This preventive approach, however, flies in the face of local custom. For centuries African women have delivered their babies at home, relying on traditional birth attendants for care. Changing long held behavior patterns and beliefs cannot be legislated….solutions must be locally designed and driven.
Using an approach long ago modified from its original inception at GE, native speaking staff were trained to run fast paced problem solving meetings. Teams who were challenged to dramatically increase pre-natal care utilization did so by over 75% and they did it in 60 days! Rural villagers designed their own innovative PR methods; door to door campaigns, drama presentations and concerts. Local tribal chiefs and religious leaders lent their moral authority and the teams themselves accomplished what no NGO could do alone.