What are the health needs and challenges?
While tremendous progress has been made over the last decade to eliminate pediatric AIDS, nearly 1,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV each day and hundreds of babies are still infected with HIV around the world, most of them living in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of them acquire HIV from their mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
Effective medical interventions are available, but most health centers are severely understaffed to raise sufficient awareness among mothers of treatments needed to protect their babies. The stigma of HIV that is prevalent in many African communities causes women to live in fear, making it difficult for them to get the care they need.
Partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges
Johnson & Johnson’s 10-year-plus partnership with Africa-based NGO mothers2mothers is focused on reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission by providing education and support to mothers living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.
Founded in 2001, mothers2mothers works to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding by providing education and support to local mothers living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.
Their work over the past 10 years has reached 1.3 million women in nine countries with counseling and services provided by more then 1,800 local mothers living with HIV, called Mentor Mothers, as frontline healthcare workers within communities and in healthcare centres. Through its embedded community efforts they have proven effective in helping women access medical interventions that significantly reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, supporting them to lead healthy lives.
In one-on-one and group sessions, Mentor Mothers provide essential health education and support to women on how they can protect their babies from HIV infection, and keep themselves healthy. Their intimate understanding of the social and cultural challenges of living with HIV gives them a unique ability to form trusted relationships with other women.
In Uganda, m2m’s programs have contributed to large reductions in mother-to-child HIV transmission rates and provide a significant return on investment: US$11.40 is saved through averted HIV treatment with every US$1 spent on m2m’s Mentor Mother program.
m2m also developed the Electronic Client Appointment Diary for m2m’s facility-based services in 2014. This mobile-enabled app allows m2m Mentor Mothers to effectively and efficiently track client appointments and has resulted in:
- Increased retention in HIV care for patients
- Increased patient adherence to prescribed drug regimens
- Improved supportive supervision and performance management
- Real-time data access and improved metrics and evaluation
This digital platform has been rolled out to all 82 m2m supported health facilities in South Africa. Working with partners such as Comic Relief and USAID, it was scaled to include 100+ additional sites in 2016 across five countries: Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi, Kenya and Uganda.
The UN Global Plan, in 2014, recognized m2m’s monumental achievement of the successful elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV among m2m clients in the targeted countries. With continued support from Johnson & Johnson, this success has the potential to spread to more countries to eliminate the threat of HIV and AIDS to mothers and children worldwide.