Students lead the way to health

Seated are Themba Ndovi and Alana Williams, and in the back row is Dr Mosedi Namane, Michelle Yi-Tin Yuan, Angela Strydom, Bradley Thompson, Duze and Sister Mpo.
Seated are Themba Ndovi and Alana Williams, and in the back row is Dr Mosedi Namane, Michelle Yi-Tin Yuan, Angela Strydom, Bradley Thompson, Duze and Sister Mpo.

A group of fourth-year medical students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) did a health promotion project to educate mothers about HIV and the importance of getting tested throughout pregnancy – and beyond – to reduce mother to child HIV transmission.

The students, Angela Strydom, Themba Ndovi, Nomalizo Duze, Bradley Thompson, Michelle Yi-Tin Yuan and Alana Williams held talks with the mothers and nurses at the Vanguard Maternity and Obstetric Unit (MOU).

They want to implement a long-term project to improve clinical management of HIV testing in mothers and they have been working with one of the doctors at the clinic.

The students designed a stamp that will be placed in the Road to Health Booklet (a booklet mothers are given once the baby is born and is used at every check-up visit) to encourage HIV testing and keep a record of these tests.

They have been working on this project since the beginning of June but it was implemented on Wednesday 24 July and their stamp is going to be rolled out in the next few weeks.

Williams says students are allocated different communities and have to design a health promotion project that addresses the needs or problems of the community. “We were placed at Vanguard and through our engagement with one of the doctors who works there, Dr Mosedi Namane, we identified that a problem is mother-to-child transmission of HIV after pregnancy or while the mother is breastfeeding,” she says.

“We also did a presentation (today) where we educated the mothers about HIV and held a discussion with the nurses. This is the first time that we were actively involved in health promotion for patients,’’ says Williams.

Asked about why they chose Vanguard MOU, Williams told People’s Post that the doctor who was working at the clinic brought this issue up with them and therefore they decided to create an intervention to highlight this issue.

Williams adds on the importance of testing for mother and child. “Firstly, for the mother, it is important for her health and it will also ensure that she is healthy to take care of her baby. The sooner the mother gets tested, the sooner HIV can be picked up. The mother can start treatment and the chances of transmission decrease significantly. It is also important for the lifelong health of the baby,” explains Williams.

Williams adds: “We feel incredibly proud to be able to implement an intervention that will have a lasting impact on the community. HIV is a very important health concern in South Africa. By doing this project we hope to empower women to take charge of their own health, their sexuality and help them during their transition in motherhood.”

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