Results of Uganda Study Praised by Government Officials

Marjorie Mbule, Country Coordinator, speaking to guests

Marjorie Mbule, m2m Uganda Country Coordinator

mothers2mothers’ (m2m) programme in Uganda took centre stage on 10 April at a meeting in Kampala where Uganda’s government officials gave high-level support and enthusiastic endorsement for the findings in the recent External Evaluation and Cost-Benefit Analysis. 

The evaluation found that m2m’s Mentor Mother Model — as implemented in Uganda as part of the USAID-funded JSI Research & Training Institute Inc’s STAR-EC Project — improves maternal and infant health outcomes and psychosocial wellbeing when compared to health facilities without m2m, and achieves significant savings by preventing paediatric HIV infections, thereby reducing HIV treatment costs.

The meeting was opened by Uganda’s National PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission) Coordinator, Dr. Esiru Godfrey, who commended m2m for providing evidence that can be used to inform and direct policy change and resource allocation for strengthening PMTCT and maternal child health systems in Uganda. He added that the Ministry of Health has a good working relationship with m2m Uganda, and promised continued support of the integration and implemention of the Mentor Mother Model nationally.

Uganda Ministry of Health

Dr. Godfrey Esiru (standing), National PMTCT Coordinator, with Dr. Raymond Byaruhanga, Executive Director of the AIDS Information Centre

A panel discussion followed, focusing on improving retention into care of the PMTCT/Option B+ ‘mother-baby’ pairs, and promoting scaling of the Mentor Mother model, with districts recommending a robust learning and adaptation approach, and lobbying the Ministry of Health to integrate the m2m model into the health sector strategic and investment plan (currently under review).

In the closing remarks, Assistant Commissionor for Health Education and Health Promotion, Mr. Paul Kagwa, recommended that models that work should not be shelved but disseminated widely to foster scale up. He suggested that the findings of the evaluation be used to engage politicians and local governments to influence policy change and resource mobilisation.

Juliet, Spokeswoman, speaking to the guests

Juliet, m2m Mentor Mother and Spokeswoman

The meeting was held in partnership with HealthNet Consult, the lead researchers on the study, and participants included Ministry of Health officials, national PMTCT implementers, officers from district health offices and local government, among others. Also speaking at the meeting were m2m Country Coordinator Marjorie Ann Mbule, Technical Advisor Vicent Kawooya, and m2m Spokeswoman and Mentor Mother Nalumu Vivien Juliet, who shared her inspirational story of survival and empowerment with the audience. Listen to Juliet’s story.

m2m started its work in Uganda as part of the Strengthening TB and HIV & AIDS Response in East Central Uganda (STAR-EC) programme, which is led by JSI Research and Training Institute and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2014, m2m was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit organisation in Uganda. In addition to m2m’s work under the STAR-EC project, m2m in partnership with UNICEF is implementing a SIDA funded project, Optimising HIV & AIDS Treatment Access (OHTA), among pregnant and lactating women. OHTA aims to increase demand, uptake, and timely utilisation of RMNCH/eMTCT (reproductive, maternal, newborn, child health/elimination of mother-to-child transmission) services for HIV-positive pregnant women, mothers, and children along the continuum of care.

The Uganda country team is holding two additional meetings to disseminate the findings of the study at the regional level on 17 April in East Central Uganda and 24 April in mid-western Uganda.