Sep 20, 2021

Ensuring Healthy, Thriving Families and an End to Pediatric AIDS

There is no one way to describe 2020, other than that it was no ordinary year. It was a year that most of us could not have imagined, and it challenged us in ways we did not think possible. Never before in our lifetimes have so much uncertainty, fear, and suffering been felt in almost every corner of the globe—reminding us just how interconnected our world and lives have become. It united us in our gratitude and celebration for the brave essential workers who risked their lives on the frontlines to keep us safe and healthy. 2020 shone a bright light on science and technology with the rapid development of testing, treatment, and vaccines for COVID-19, while laying bare the gross inequities in healthcare. Inarguably, it was a year that none of us will ever forget—with the hardships and bright moments indelibly etched in our memories.

At mothers2mothers (m2m), 2020 was full of challenges, perseverance, and—perhaps surprisingly—growth. The incredibly fast spread of COVID-19 across Africa was terrifying, raising fears of its impact on the continent’s already critically overstretched health systems. We rapidly responded and adapted our model to protect the women employed on the frontlines as Mentor Mothers—who were designated as essential workers in countries on lockdown—while making sure our clients continued to receive support and health services, including COVID-19 education and support. 

COVID-19 pushed us to innovate and adapt how we deliver our services, which will have a lasting and positive impact on our program for years to come. We quickly expanded our eServices to ensure our frontline staff could continue providing services when they could not meet clients in person. We also accelerated the launch of our Virtual Mentor Mother Platform, an interactive WhatsApp chatbot tool, which opened a new way for us to bring trusted information and support on COVID-19 and other critical health issues to more people. 

Even amid COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, m2m continued to grow during a widespread pandemic. We launched a program in Tanzania, and began full implementation of our services in Angola and Ghana, bringing the total number of country programs to 10. m2m served a total of 1,331,449 new and returning clients in 2020 through direct services and technical assistance, an increase of 4% from the year before. We broadened our client base—reaching more children, adolescents, and young adults—in line with our commitment to achieve health for all. We also deepened our service areas for our core clients, including adding prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and diabetes.  

Our success last year was only possible because of the extraordinary, unwavering support and flexibility of our existing donors. We are so grateful to our donors, partners, board members and trustees, staff, and friends who stood with us throughout this challenging year. Moreover, the generous emergency funds we received from new and existing donors and partners, made it possible for us to continue to provide life-saving services to the women and families we serve at a time when they needed it most. Thank you for standing by our frontline staff and supporting their vital work. 

At m2m, we will not forget 2020…a year that despite fear, deep hardships, and extreme loss, we delivered on our mission—ensuring healthy, thriving families and an end to pediatric AIDS.

Aug 13, 2021

Achieving Growth and Impact Amid Two Pandemics

m2m Mentor Mother with one of our youngest clients
m2m Mentor Mother with one of our youngest clients

mothers2mothers is proud to share that—despite the disruption and fear caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—we have grown our reach and delivered excellent outcomes, including achieving the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV for enrolled clients for the seventh year in a row. Thanks to m2m’s flexible model, the dedication and skill of our frontline teams, and innovations across the organisation, we have been able to advance our mission and weather the crisis of COVID-19—protecting our frontline staff and clients, while delivering innovation, growth, and impact. 

We are also proud to have been able to maintain and protect meaningful jobs for African women living with HIV in 2020, providing much-needed income during a time of unprecedented economic crisis. As of the end of 2020, m2m employed 1,698 frontline staff members.  

m2m’s footprint is larger than it has ever been. We now work in 10 African nations across Eastern, Southern, and Western Africa. In 2020, we began full-scale implementation in Angola and Ghana, deepened interventions in Zambia, and recommenced operations in Tanzania. 

Our client base grew as well. We enrolled 1,044,045 new clients directly into our programme in 2020, a 14% increase over 2019. We also broadened our client base in line with our commitment to increase access to healthcare for everyone—reaching 16% more children (ages 0-2), 31% more adolescents (ages 10-19), and 16% more young adults (ages 20-24), compared to 2019.

Significant Progress on the Journey to End HIV by 2030
One of the big highlights of the year is that we achieved virtual elimination of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV for the seventh year in a row for our enrolled clients, with an average rate of just 0.8% across three representative countries (Lesotho, South Africa, and Uganda), 1  well below the United Nations benchmark of 5% for virtual elimination. This is the first time this critical rate has dipped below 1%. The rate was also below national averages in Lesotho, South Africa, and Uganda. 

We are grateful to our team, whose resilience and dedication has made these remarkable results possible. We thank our partners who have supported us on this journey. Together, we will deliver our vision of health, hope, and an HIV-free future.

Jun 2, 2021

Shining a Light on m2m's Family-Centred Approach

Dorothy Kachere, Mentor Mother in Mulanje, Malawi
Dorothy Kachere, Mentor Mother in Mulanje, Malawi

Focusing on the health of all family members—in particular women, children, and adolescents who are highly vulnerable to HIV and other health issues—is critical to reaching the global goals of achieving good health and well-being for all and an end of HIV/AIDS.

The 1,700 women employed by m2m as frontline health workers, called Mentor Mothers—like Dorothy Kachere in Mulanje, Malawi—not only focus on their client’s health, but also ensure that everyone in their client’s family is accessing the vital health services they need.

This was the case with Dorothy’s client, Mary (not her real name), who came to the health centre as a pregnant teenager. Mary was scared of being judged and reprimanded so she sought out an “approachable person’’ at the clinic to talk with, and along came Dorothy.

When Dorothy followed up with Mary at her home, she noticed a young boy of school age, who Dorothy identified as her seven-year-old brother, Dalitso, who was born disabled and couldn’t walk or talk.

Dorothy talked to the family about how they could provide more support to Dalitso. She introduced Dalitso and the family to play therapy and encouraged them to communicate with and sing for Dalitso consistently. She also organised play sessions with other mothers of disabled children at the health centre, and referred him for physiotherapy and early childhood development (ECD) services. Watching Dalitso’s improvement from the first time she met him to the lively 8-year-old boy he is today is one of Dorothy’s proudest moments.

“He can now communicate with some non-verbal cues and signs, he can express his emotions with smiles and little murmurs, and is even showing some independence with wanting to feed himself even though he can’t do that yet. Even though Mary was my reason for visiting the home, all the family members are now my clients. Mary has a healthy HIV-negative baby girl and Dalitso’s mom understands the importance of ECD and how to care for a disabled child,” Dorothy said.

It is success stories like Dalitso’s that highlight the importance of m2m’s work to improve the health and well-being of all members of a family. To that end, m2m has evolved our tried and tested peer-based model to encompass a family-centred approach that tackles a range of health-related challenges at all stages of life, from pregnancy, birth, childhood, adolescents, and beyond. We provide support and services to prevent new HIV infections and ensure people living with HIV access treatment and remain healthy. We also focus on related health challenges—including TB, maternal and child mortality, and early childhood development—while delivering women’s social and economic empowerment.  We want to make healthy, thriving families communities the new normal. In this way, we are creating an HIV-free generation.

 
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