The usefulness of traditional birth attendants to women living with HIV in resource-poor settings: the case of Mfuwe, Zambia

Choolwe Muzyamba*, Wim Groot, Sonila M. Tomini, Milena Pavlova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Although there is increased attention on the role of trained traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in maternal care, most of the research has mainly focused on providing evidence of the relevance of trained TBAs to women in general without a specific focus on women who are HIV positive, despite them being most vulnerable. Therefore, the aim of this study is to fill this gap by assessing the relevance of trained TBAs to women living with HIV in resource-poor settings by using Zambia as a case study.

Methods: Our data collection consisted of two focus group discussions, one involving HIV-positive women utilizing trained TBAs and the other with women not utilizing TBAs. Additionally, in-depth interviews were conducted with trained TBAs and health workers. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data.

Results: In general, women living with HIV positively characterized the services of TBAs. In the face of an inefficient health system, trained TBAs were seen to be useful in providing efficient, cheap and quality care, counseling, and referral and logistical support, including treatment adherence support.

Conclusion: In Zambia, trained TBAs and professional care are not mutually exclusive but complementary. There is no doubt that HIV-positive women need professionals to handle complications and offer antiretroviral treatment to ensure prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT). However, additional "soft" services offered by trained TBAs are equally important in the promotion of maternal health care among HIV-positive women. Thus, it seems there is more to gain by systematically allowing trained TBAs to work alongside professionals in a well-coordinated and complementary manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
Number of pages8
JournalTropical Medicine and Health
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2017


  • Maternal health
  • Traditional birth attendants (TBAs)
  • HIV/aids

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