Background: It is recommended that Antenatal Care (ANC) be initiated within the first trimester of pregnancy for essential interventions, such folic acid supplementation, to be effective. In Tanzania, only 24% of mothers attend their first ANC appointment during their first trimester. Studies have shown that women who have had contact with a health worker are more likely to attend their first antenatal care appointment earlier in pregnancy. Community health workers (CHWs) are in an opportune position to be this contact. This study explored CHW experiences with identifying women early in gestation to refer them to facility-based antenatal care services in Morogoro, Tanzania. Methods: This qualitative study employed 10 semi-structured focus group discussions, 5 with 34 CHWs and 5 with 34 recently delivered women in three districts in Morogoro, Tanzania. A thematic analytical approach was used to identify emerging themes among the CHW and RDW responses. Results: Study findings show CHWs play a major role in identifying pregnant women in their communities and linking them with health facilities. Lack of trust and other factors, however, affect early pregnancy identification by the CHWs. They utilize several methods to identify pregnant women, including: Asking direct questions to households when collecting information on the national census, conducting frequent household visits and getting information about pregnant women from health facilities. Conclusions: We present a framework for the interaction of factors that affect CHWs' ability to identify pregnant women early in gestation. Further studies need to be conducted investigating optimal workload for CHWs, as well as reasons pregnant women might conceal their pregnancies.
- Antenatal care
- Community health workers
- Pregnancy identification
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health