Midwives in KwaZulu-Natal Pledge to Fight TB in Children and Pregnant Women

During a June summit in Hluhluwe, 300 midwives from KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa pledged to be more proactive in fighting tuberculosis (TB) among children and pregnant women. The summit, entitled “No Women or Child in KZN Should Die from Preventable Causes,” was hosted by the Provincial Department of Health and supported by the USAID TB CARE II Project and other partners. It was designed to highlight how TB affects pregnant women and discuss the crucial role that midwives can play in reducing maternal morbidity and mortality.  

Untreated TB can increase pregnancy complications and put women at greater risk of maternal morbidity due to miscarriage, postpartum hemorrhage, labor difficulties, and preeclampsia. The risk of maternal morbidity further increases in women who are also HIV positive.

At the event, the USAID TB CARE II Project distributed TB screening tools and patient smart cards for midwives to use in their work. The project also organized a walk to promote public awareness of the dangers of TB for mothers and children. Participants wore branded t-shirts and carried banners that further emphasized this message. 

Participants carrying the message on their t-shirts to help curb TB in pregnant women.
Participants carrying the message on their t-shirts to help curb TB in pregnant women.

Ms. Fikile Dlongolo, the USAID TB CARE II Provincial Coordinator for KZN, gave a presentation on TB and pregnancy. She started by sharing findings from the Saving Mothers Report 2011–2013, which found that the five main causes of maternal deaths were non-pregnancy-related infections; 34.7% of deaths were due to HIV infection complicated by TB. She stressed the critical need to screen pregnant women for TB at every clinic visit, as well as during any encounter with formal or informal health services, both during pregnancy and in the postnatal period.

Inspiring midwives to screen every pregnant woman they see for TB.
Inspiring midwives to screen every pregnant woman they see for TB.

Because of their frequent contact with pregnant women, midwives have a vital role to play in curbing TB. Midwives can conduct intensive TB screening among pregnant women to promote early diagnosis and TB treatment. They can also help initiate HIV-positive pregnant women on isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT), which reduces their risk of developing TB disease. Mr. Duncan Motsethle, a dietician from Manguzi Hospital in uMkhanyakude District, shared best practices used at Manguzi to curb child deaths.

The summit also emphasized the need for integrated health services and for midwives to work in partnership with communities, politicians, traditional leaders, businesses, and others for the benefit of the patients. In her official opening remarks for the summit, uMkhanyakude District Health Manager Ms. Makhosazana Themba praised midwives for their compassion, integrity, and ability to earn their clients’ trust. Ms. Themba said midwives are not merely custodians of specific skills, but also act as advocates for patients, uniquely positioning them to impact the communities in which they serve.

Engaged audience members learn about TB and pregnancy.
Engaged audience members learn about TB and pregnancy.
Date 
July 20, 2015
Authors 
Banele Dlamini and Colleen Longacre, USAID TB CARE II Project
Regions/ Countries