From the 18th to 21st of July, mothers2mothers (m2m) will join thousands of HIV professionals at the world’s most influential meeting on HIV research—the International AIDS Society’s (IAS) 11th Conference on HIV Science, which will be primarily virtual this year. The IAS 2021 is a biennial gathering brings together global experts and policymakers to share the latest advances in basic, clinical, and operational HIV research to inform and move policy and practice. m2m will present a series of posters that showcase our 2020 programme innovation, including:
Pivoting to eServices
When COVID-19 began spreading across Africa last year, m2m moved swiftly to protect the health and safety of the nearly 1,700 women living with HIV employed by m2m as frontline health workers, while ensuring the over one million people we serve each year could continue to receive the health services and education they need. This prompted us to look at how we could combine technology with modified in-person services, leading m2m to accelerate the development and launch of two new eServices solutions, which we rapidly rolled out across the countries where we operate: Peer via Phone services and the Virtual Mentor Mother Platform (VMMP).
Through Peer via Phone services, Mentor Mothers largely use phone calls or text messages to provide clients with routine, continued follow up and support when they are unable to meet their clients in person due to lockdowns and other restrictions related to COVID-19. The VMMP is an interactive Whatsapp-based chatbot tool, which enables users in nine of the countries where we operate to access vital health information and service referrals on COVID-19 and other health topics.
Through strong relationships with key stakeholders, m2m was able to pivot timeously to ensure continued support during the pandemic. Established peer mentor-client relationships facilitated a high uptake of eServices and early data on key health outcomes for mothers and infants during this challenging period will be shared through poster presentation at the conference.
Pilot Programme Shows Potential
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are a large—and growing—public health issue in sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa’s Western Cape province, hypertension and diabetes prevalence are estimated at 37% and 11% respectively. This is of great concern, in part because hypertension, obesity, and diabetes are the most common comorbidities with COVID-19 hospitalisations. In response, m2m developed a pilot intervention using its peer-based model, to provide integrated HIV/NCD care with the aim of improving the health outcomes of enrolled clients.
m2m employed and trained 20 Mentor Mothers to deliver health facility and community-based integrated care for HIV/NCDs to adults with uncontrolled diabetes and/or hypertension at two high-volume facilities in Khayelitsha, Western Cape. Clients were educated about their condition and the importance of adhering to treatment and were encouraged to attend clinical appointments and make lifestyle changes. As this was the first time m2m has delivered integrated HIV/NCD care, key learnings from this pilot programme will be shared through a poster presentation at the conference.
High-Intensity Health Education for Adolescent Girls and Young Women
Another programme that will be shared at IAS 2021 is lessons learnt in delivering m2m’s educational sessions for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) who are at risk of HIV and unplanned pregnancies. A significant contributor to adolescent pregnancies is poor access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services. Through a series of group sessions, antenatal and postnatal AGYW clients were taught about pregnancy and infant care, how to deal with self-esteem and mental health issues, decision-making and goal-setting. Due to COVID-19, face-to-face group sessions had to be adapted for a virtual setting—facilitators led participants through the curriculum via phone. This resulted in key learnings which will be harnessed for future programme delivery, and will also be shared at the conference.
For more information on IAS 2021, click here, or follow our social media channels for updates.