mothers2mothers: Helping mothers save babies
Prevent mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus in Africa
Hire HIV+ mothers as peer counselors focused on good pre-and-post-natal care and the prevention of maternal-child transmission of HIV
How it works
- Recruit and employ exemplary HIV+ mothers to serve as “Mentor Mothers”
- Train Mentor Mothers best practices for preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child
- Mentor Mothers work side-by-side with doctors and nurses to ensure that patients understand and adhere to prescribed interventions
How it will go to scale
Via governments. m2m integrates with existing government health care systems and clinics.
Progress so far
International scale up: m2m operates in 9 countries and enrolls ~ 275,000 new clients annually.
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Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV/AIDs is almost entirely preventable and in the western world pediatric AIDS has been virtually eliminated.
In stark contrast, millions of babies still die from HIV/AIDS related illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because there is limited knowledge about how the virus is transmitted, stigma and discrimination often prevent women from getting tested and treated, and overwhelmed medical clinics cannot provide the follow-up and support that these mothers need. In 2001 Dr. Mitch Besser found a simple solution: train and hire HIV+ moms to teach and mentor other HIV+ moms, ensuring that they can and will access life-saving treatment for their babies and themselves. This new tier of paid, professionalized health care providers close critical gaps in health care delivery – and at a low cost. Started in South Africa by Besser and co-founders Gene Falk and Robin Smalley, mothers2mothers now works in 9 African countries, employs 1700 Mentor Mothers and enrolls over 275,000 pregnant women in their program each year.
A compelling problem
Despite the increasing availability of effective interventions, the HIV epidemic in sub- Saharan Africa continues to devastate HIV+ mothers and their babies.
A scalable solution
Mulago assesses scalability based on five characteristics common to efforts that have taken lasting impact to scale.
Real impact: Many studies have proven that mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be reduced from 30% to less than 2% with good uptake of existing interventions. Individual site studies of the m2m model indicate that they significantly increase the uptake of these services. By the end of 2011, m2m expects to report on their achievement of key PMTCT indicators across a broader portfolio of sites.
Cost-effective: Using some basic modeling assumptions, m2m spends roughly $250 per prevented transmission of the virus from mother-to-child.
Lasting behavior: When mothers are involved in mentoring other HIV+ women, the data indicates that both mothers and babies are much more likely to receive and take their anti-retroviral treatment.
Easy replication: The m2m model is simple and adaptable. Using a mix of 3 different strategies, the model is currently scaling in 9 countries.
A viable route to scale: The use of existing medical infrastructure, along with the international funds that support that infrastructure, is proving an effective scaling mechanism. At the same time, other NGO’s are beginning to implement the m2m model with guidance from m2m.
Capacity to deliver
mothers2mothers is led by an exceptional team of seasoned senior leaders. At the head of the team are the three Co-Founders, Mitch Besser, Gene Falk and Robin Smalley, who together bring an unusual combination of experience in public health, business management and communications. With a dedicated staff and board of directors, they have built a trusted m2m brand that is synonymous with high-quality, effective PMTCT care.
updated October 2011