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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
5021.0: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - Board 5

Abstract #114727

Midwifery, apartheid, and HIV: A qualitative study of aging black African midwives working in a prevention of maternal to child transmission of HIV clinic in Soweto, South Africa

Sarah C. Wilhelm, BA, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Department of Health Services, University of Washington, 731 Federal Ave. E #10, Seattle, WA 98102, 206-962-1679, scw9@u.washington.edu

The dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa, along with the immense and rapid rise of HIV infection since the end of apartheid, has had a huge and historic impact on South Africa's health care system and workforce. An improved understanding of midwifery as practiced by black Africans before and after apartheid is important as these midwives, and their patients, move into an era of changing health status and services. This qualitative study explores the effects of apartheid and the rise of HIV on the careers of a group of aging midwives employed at the Perinatal HIV Research Unit's Prevention of Maternal to Child Transmission project in Soweto, South Africa. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 midwives who practiced primarily under apartheid, addressing the following research questions: 1) What were the educational opportunities and experiences for black African midwives under apartheid? 2) How have the end of apartheid and the rise of HIV affected midwifery practice, particularly for black African midwives? 3) What unique skills, perspectives, and knowledge do the participants bring to their current work in PMTCT? Data were coded and analyzed for themes. Results indicate that educational opportunities for black African health professionals have improved since the end of apartheid. The scope of practice for these midwives was broad under apartheid. While the end of apartheid has improved working conditions and opportunities for these midwives, the rise of HIV has led to a decline in the overall health status of the populations they serve.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Keywords: Workforce, International MCH

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Student and New Researcher Papers in Maternal and Child Health

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA