Challenges in the implementation of the Infant and Young Child Feeding policy to prevent mother-to-child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus in the Nelson Mandela Bay District
Objective: To assess the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) policy implementation among healthcare workers working at the Nelson Mandela Bay District (NMBD) public healthcare facilities.
Design: Descriptive survey using quantitative closed structured questionnaires.
Setting: Nursing professionals (n = 32) rendering maternal and child health services in 19 permanent NMBD clinics were included in a convenience sample in October 2011.
Method: The closed, structured questionnaire was developed based on statements contained within the 2007 IYCF policy and administered by one interviewer. Ethics approval was obtained and respondents had to provide informed written consent. Data were analysed by means of descriptive and differential statistics.
Results: Sixty-three per cent of nursing professionals were older than 40 years of age and more than half had already completed the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) and 20-hour IYCF training course. Respondents achieved a high mean score of 8.07 on knowledge of infant feeding in the context of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, no association could be demonstrated between knowledge scores and previous training. Despite high scores on perceptions of the importance of IYCF counselling, 56% of the participants reported that they had never seen the IYCF policy before.
Conclusion: Relevant training in IYCF in the context of HIV, the availability of IYCF policy guidelines and monitoring of counselling and training of health professionals and volunteers, are some of the challenges that need to be addressed to improve implementation of IYCF policy in the NMBD district.
Keywords: PMTCT, IYCF, HIV, policy, healthcare facilities