With funding from the Gift of Hope, the Postnatal Clinic (PNC) at Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre runs A FRESH Start Program, a fully comprehensive postnatal clinic service to all women and babies for 18 months after birth, maximizing identification and opportunity to treat HIV infection, and improved long term health outcomes.
Mothers and babies come to the PNC within 7 days after delivery and receive a medical check-up for themselves and their babies. If a mother is HIV positive, the clinician ensures that she is following the protocol to Eliminate Mother-to-Child Transmission (EMTCT, previously known as PMTCT - Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission) and is up-to-date with the necessary treatment. After six weeks, the mother returns with her baby and receives follow-up services: a pap smear for the mother and a repeat HIV test if she was previously HIV negative, and immunisations for the baby. Again, EMTCT is provided for HIV positive mothers, and the baby is tested for HIV. Follow up visits are scheduled at 10 weeks, 14 weeks, 6 months and 9 months.
At each visit the mother is provided with both emotional support and psycho-education. Referrals are routinely made to other services at Witkoppen, such as the Child and Family Mental Health Clinic, Social Services and HIV testing and counselling.
Health workers and counsellors provide health education, which includes information on caring for a baby, caring for oneself and recognising postpartum depression; and a message on EMTCT is given.
The FRESH Start comprehensive model of the PNC considers both the physical and emotional needs of a mother and her baby.