Can Social Innovation advance the PMTCT programme? A South African reflection

¿Puede la Innovación Social contribuir al avance del programa PMTCT? Una reflexión sudafricana

  • Lwando Mdleleni University of the Western Cape
  • Linda Velapi Univesity of the Western Cape
Keywords: social innovation, SIH: Social Innovation in Health, PMTCT: Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, MTCT: Mother to Child Transmission, LMICs: Low-Middle in Countries.


The prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programme is an initiative developed to enable health care practitioners to provide essential care to mothers in order to prevent the transmission of HIV to their infants. However, the PMTCT programme has not been reaching its intended prevention objectives. This paper identifies the social issues that elucidate the gap between PMTCT program goals and the role that Social Innovation could play in improving the status quo. Supporting Social Innovation in health helps reduce infectious diseases by empowering communities to become active participants in their health challenges through local adaptation of global strategies that facilitate the reduction of health system limitations. The article combines a review of the literature with empirical evidence extracted from research that has analyzed the postpartum experiences of mothers living with HIV in the context of the PMTCT program in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa in 2021. To address the research question, exploratory research has been adopted through a case study. The research is qualitative, exploratory and descriptive based on a case study constructed with secondary data. The results show that Social Innovation contributes to addressing healthcare challenges by providing more personal, analytical and preventive healthcare pathways. In addition, Social Innovation makes a critical contribution to addressing demographic challenges by helping those who are unable to access healthcare. This paper argues that Social Innovation in health is most effective when it occurs from the bottom up, as it is a process that engages the community and connects social change and health improvement through the diverse efforts of local actors. The article demonstrates that having local beneficiaries drive the development of a Social Innovation programme in health results in more viable and sustainable solutions. It also demonstrates that Social Innovation harnesses the ingenuity and willingness of community members, strengthening conventional health service systems and helping to achieve improved and sustainable health services. 



El programa de prevención de la transmisión materno-infantil (PMTCT) es una iniciativa desarrollada para que los profesionales de la salud proporcionen atención esencial a las madres con el fin de prevenir la transmisión del VIH a sus hijos. Sin embargo, el programa PMTCT no ha alcanzado los objetivos de prevención previstos. Este documento identifica las cuestiones sociales que explican la brecha entre los objetivos del programa de PMTCT y el papel que podría desempeñar la Innovación Social para mejorar el statu quo. El apoyo a la Innovación Social en materia de salud ayuda a disminuir las enfermedades infecciosas al empoderar a las comunidades para que se conviertan en participantes activos de sus retos sanitarios, mediante la adaptación local de estrategias globales que faciliten la reducción de las limitaciones del sistema sanitario. El artículo combina una revisión de la literatura con evidencia empírica extraída de una investigación que ha analizado las experiencias posparto de las madres que viven con el VIH en el marco del programa PTMH en Khayelitsha, Ciudad del Cabo, Sudáfrica en 2021. Para abordar la pregunta de investigación se ha adoptado un diseño de investigación exploratoria mediante un estudio de casos. La investigación es cualitativa, exploratoria y descriptiva, basada en un estudio de caso construido con datos secundarios. Los resultados muestran que la Innovación Social contribuye a abordar los retos sanitarios proporcionando vías de atención sanitaria más personales, analíticas y preventivas. Además, la Innovación Social contribuye de forma decisiva a abordar los retos demográficos, ayudando a los que no pueden acceder a la asistencia sanitaria. Este documento sostiene que la Innovación Social en el ámbito de la salud es más eficaz cuando se produce de abajo hacia arriba, ya que es un proceso que involucra a la comunidad y que conecta el cambio social y la mejora de la salud a través de los diversos esfuerzos de los actores locales. El artículo demuestra que el hecho de que los beneficiarios locales impulsen el desarrollo de un programa de Innovación Social en materia de salud da lugar a soluciones más viables y sostenibles. Asimismo, demuestra que la Innovación Social aprovecha el ingenio y la voluntad de los miembros de la comunidad, fortaleciendo los sistemas convencionales de servicios sanitarios y ayudando a conseguir unos servicios sanitarios mejorados y sostenibles. 

Palabras clave: innovación social; SIH: Innovación Social en Salud; PMTCT: Prevención de la Transmisión Materno Infantil; MTCT: Transmisión Materno Infantil; LMICs: Países de renta media-baja.




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How to Cite
Mdleleni, L., & Velapi, L. (2022). Can Social Innovation advance the PMTCT programme? A South African reflection. European Public & Social Innovation Review, 7(1), 43-56. Retrieved from
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