m2m Mentor Mother and Spokeswoman Speaks at ICASA
Khanyisile Mavimbela, a Mentor Mother who runs a mothers2mothers (m2m) site in a rural community in Swaziland, spoke on a panel at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) that also included officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNAIDS, Ministries of Health, and the South African Medical Research Council.ICASA is taking place this year in Harare, Zimbabwe from 29 November to 4 December. The session at which Khanyisile spoke was titled New Perpsectives in the prevention, treatment, and care of HIV in children and adolescents, where do we go from here?, and was jointly organised by UNICEF and WHO, in collaboration with the Interagency Task Team on the Prvention and Treatment of HIV Infection in Pregmant Women, Mothers, and Children (IATT).
In her presentation, From Clinic to Community – mothers2mothers bridges the gap, Khanyisile shared with the audience how frightened she was when she tested positive with HIV during her first pregnancy and how m2m Mentor Mothers educated and supported her to access treatment that protected her baby from infection and has enabled her to live a healthy, positive life. Khanyisile said that in order to eliminate paediatric AIDS, it is essential that all HIV-positive pregnant women and new mothers receive treatment and stay in care. She went onto discuss m2m’s Community Mentor Mother programme, which started this year in Swaziland, and its focus on engaging women who have not accessed medical care or who have missed key medical appointments at their homes and linking them with Mentor Mothers working health centres.
Other speakers at the session included: Dr. Shaffiq Essajee, Medical Officer for PMTCT and Maternal-child Health service delivery, WHO; Dr. Angela Mushavi, Pediatrician/National PMTCT and Pediatric HIV Care and Treatment Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Zimbabwe; Dr. Eleanor Namusoke-Magongo, Program Officer Pediatric HIV Care and Treatment AIDS Control Program, Ministry of Health-Uganda; and Ms. Trisha Ramraj, Scientist, South African Medical Research Council. Gottfried Hirnschall, Director, HIV Department at WHO, gave the opening remarks. And Dr. Chewe Luo, Senior Adviser and Team Leader, Country Programme Scale up at UNICEF gave the closing remarks. The session was moderated by Dr. Shiela Tlou, Director, Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa at UNAIDS.