Philani Plus home visiting programme

A Mentor Mother community health worker home visiting programme to improve maternal and infants’ outcomes

The Philani Plus (+) intervention programme builds on the original Philani community health workers (CHW) home visiting intervention programme for maternal and child nutrition by integrating content and activities to address HIV, alcohol, and mental health. This research paper presents the intervention protocol and baseline sample characteristics for the “Philani Plus (+)” CHW home visiting intervention trial.

Pregnant Mothers at Risk (MAR) for HIV, alcohol, and/or nutrition problems in 24 neighbourhoods in townships in Cape Town, South Africa were randomly assigned by neighbourhood to an intervention or a standard-care control condition of neighbourhood clinic-based services. Positive peer deviant “Mentor Mother” CHWs were recruited from the neighbourhoods and trained to deliver four antenatal and four postnatal home visits that address HIV, alcohol, nutrition, depression, health care regimens for the family, caretaking and bonding, and securing government-provided child grants.

The MAR and their babies were monitored during pregnancy, 1 week after birth, as well as 6 and 18 months later. The 1,239 MAR who were recruited included women who were HIV positive, used alcohol during pregnancy, previously had low-birthweight babies, had at least one chronic condition, had recent sexual partners (some of which were known to be HIV positive), had clinically significant prenatal depression and had borderline depression.

The Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Project has been addressing child health and nutrition problems in informal settlements around Cape Town since 1979. Ilifa Labantwana supported the evaluation of the study in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The findings of this research stem from this evaluation.

Written by Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, Ingrid M. le Roux, Mark Tomlinson, Nokwanele Mbewu, W. Scott Comulada, Karl le Roux, Jacqueline Stewart, Mary J. O’Connor, Mary Hartley, Kate Desmond, Erin Greco, Carol M. Worthman, Faith Idemundia and Dallas Swendeman. Published by Springer in 2011.

If you would like a copy of this study, please email us on