Feature story

Mothers as mentors

21 June 2007

As part of efforts to prevent transmission of HIV from new mothers to their babies, South Africa has set up a programme called “Mothers to Mothers” (m2m). As part of the programme, women are trained to mentor other pregnant women and new mothers living with HIV. Mr Gene Falk explained that Mothers to Mothers was proving to be an effective, sustainable model of care. The women can also use a telephone hotline which has been an important channel of conveying education and support. Public education through TV shows also proved to be one of the most effective ways of informing women about mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

In Zambia there are over 16 % of adults aged 15-49 are living with HIV. Dr. Namwinga Chintu from Zambia’s Center for Infectious Research said that follow up to identify infants who’d been exposed to HIV, was a priority. She added that in Zambia, initiatives aimed at preventing mother to child transmission of HIV had been increased thanks to collaboration between the Zambian government and partners backed by the US government. In a country where the AIDS epidemic has had a devastating impact on all facets of Zambian life, she said that co-operation between government and partners involved in the AIDS response was crucial. She called for innovative funding programmes to help prevent mother to child transmission of HIV and for the implementation of methods that support government ownership.

“A little push in the right direction can make a big difference,” she said

She cited many challenges in implementing HIV programmes, including competing health priorities, how to deliver services to hard-to-reach areas and the poor rates of facility deliveries.




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