m2m Launches Gauteng Mentor Mother Programme28 August 2015
mothers2mothers (m2m) South Africa team, in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Department of Health, launched the Gauteng Mentor Mother Programme (GMMP) at an event on 26 August. GMMP is part of the South African Mentor Mother Programme (SAMMP), a national initiative supported by USAID that is bringing Mentor Mothers employed by local authorities to health centres across the country. GMMP is expected to reach 91 health centres with Mentor Mothers over the next year, as part of Phase One of the roll-out. To date, 65 health centres are implementing SAMMP services in Gauteng, with 120 Mentor Mothers trained and placed.
The goal of GMMP is to improve maternal and infant health and wellbeing, and increase the involvement of People Living with HIV and communities in the HIV response, as Mentor Mothers are HIV-positive mothers recruited from the communities surrounding health centres. In Gauteng, Mentor Mothers will provide HIV-prevention education and support to both HIV-positive and negative pregnant women and mothers, as well as their partners and families. Mentor Mothers will also offer a wide range of education, support, and referral services to keep women engaged with the health system after they give birth and ensure they stay on treatment for optimal health outcomes for themselves and their families. These services include maternal health, infant and child health, TB, nutrition support, cervical cancer screenings, and family planning.
The launch event was attended by approximately 300 people from five districts in Gauteng, and included prominent members of USAID, provincial management, community members, and Mentor Mothers from across GMMP sites. Gauteng Provincial Department of Health Director of HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections, Mr. Mhlubulwana, gave a passionate keynote about the Mentor Mother programme and shared accounts of its benefits. Kerry Pelzman, Director of Health at USAID in South Africa, said USAID is pleased to see government ownership building on the PEPFAR Partnership Framework and USAID partnership and funding with the first peer-based health workers for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) on the ground in Gauteng priority sites. m2m South Africa Country Director Shungu Gwarinda provided the audience with background on m2m and GMMP.