“This partnership with mothers2mothers will help advance the goals we share with millions of concerned people across Africa and the world of eliminating paediatric AIDS,” said U.S. Ambassador Makila James at the launch ceremony, which was held on January 23rd at the Raleigh Fitkin (RFM) Hospital in Manzini, Swaziland where m2m has its second largest site in the country.
“Keeping mothers healthy involves strengthening the capacity of health workers to deliver crucial PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission) and maternal child health services, while also creating role models that take away stigma in communities,” she added.
Swaziland hosted the launch event as the first country selected to implement m2m’s new project. In addition to Ambassador James, other speakers at the event included: Swaziland’s Honourable Minister for Health, Mr. Benedict Xaba; Jeff Borns, Mission Director of USAID/Southern Africa; m2m CEO Frank Beadle de Palomo; and Mentor Mother Khanyisile Mavimbela.
“In Swaziland, like in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, women are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. Yet women are also leading the fight against HIV. Putting women at the center of our development programmes just makes sense,” said Jeff Borns.
In addition to providing m2m’s core education and psychosocial support services to HIV-positive women and new mothers, Mentor Mothers will be given the opportunity to expand their reach. Under the RISE project, they will offer education and referral services on a wider range of health issues to both HIV-positive and HIV-negative women and their families, including TB screening, cervical cancer, neonatal male circumcision, and gender-based violence.
“Mentor Mothers are well positioned to be frontline health care workers within the region’s severely understaffed health centers. The strength and power of our program translates into better health for those we serve. We are excited that under this new partnership with USAID, m2m’s Mentor Mothers will be able to apply their highly effective mentoring skills to many of the health issues afflicting the sub-Saharan region,” said Frank Beadle de Palomo.
In Swaziland, m2m’s RISE project will build on the Mentor Mother services that m2m hasalt offered in the country since 2008. “Since we started having a programme with mothers2mothers, we are seeing tremendous progress and achievement. In fact, the programme came at the right time to give hope in the country, more especially to mothers and to parents and to families. We now have hope of seeing children born HIV-negative,” said the Honourable Benedict Xaba in a recent interview.
“We have the challenge of stigma and discrimination but since mothers2mothers programme came into the country, we have seen much improvement. The programme has done very well for the country, and we are very proud of the programme,” he added.