Implementation of the basic antenatal care approach : a tailored practice framework for eThekwini district, KwaZulu-Natal
Ngxongo, Thembelihle Sylvia Patience
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Globally antenatal care is advocated as the cornerstone for reducing children’s deaths and improving maternal health. The World Health Organization designed and tested a Focussed Antenatal Care model for the developing countries to improve their quality of antenatal care services. South Africa has not successfully implemented this approach, referred to by South Africa as the Basic Antenatal Care approach. A convergent parallel mixed methods design was used to assess how the Basic Antenatal Care approach was implemented in the eThekwini district. Data were collected from 12 Primary Health Care clinics using observations, retrospective record reviews and semi-structured interviews conducted with pregnant women. The quantitative data was analysed using version 21.0 of the Statistical Package of Social Services and qualitative data was analysed using Tech’s method of data analysis. The Basic Antenatal Care approach was not being successfully implemented in the Primary Health Care clinics. Several aspects of planning, people, processes and performance were not done according to the Basic Antenatal Care Principles of Good Care and Guidelines. Although good communication was observed between the clinic staff members and the referral institutions, communication problems existed between the Primary Health Care clinics and the Emergency Medical Rescue Services and also with the pregnant women. Antenatal care and delivery plans and the midwives’ counter checking of maternity charts were not recorded. Some pregnant women had positive perceptions about the antenatal care services but others had negative perceptions. Recommendations pertaining to institutional management and practice, nursing education and research were made. A tailored practice framework and an implementation guide were developed based on setting and client-specific factors to facilitate the implementation of the Basic Antenatal Care approach. The framework highlights the importance of cooperation between management and administration, in-service education and skills development departments/units and the operational level. Effective implementation of the Basic Antenatal Care approach could help to reduce South Africa’s high maternal and neonatal mortality rates. Thus the tailored practice framework and implementation guide, developed as part of this study, could help to improve maternal and neonatal health-related outcomes in South Africa.