Thriving Children, Brighter Futures

mothers2mothers’ (m2m) new Early Childhood Development (ECD) services, which are integrated into our prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programme, recently launched in Swaziland.

ECD Mentor Mother, Nonhlahla, says it will be a game-changer.

A growing body of evidence shows that quality healthcare, proper nutrition, and social and emotional stimulation through the first 1,000 days are the foundations for success later in life. Children deprived of these developmental influences are likely to have lower educational levels, lower income as adults, and poor parenting skills, thus perpetuating the cycle of intergenerational poverty and early childhood deprivation. Particularly vulnerable are HIV-exposed or HIV-positive children, whose parents can become ill, die, or experience stress and poor mental health, thus reducing the quality of care that they receive.

Specially trained Mentor Mothers, like Nonhlahla, provide an essential package of ECD services to children and their parents or caregivers at their homes or within health facilities. This is in addition to HIV education and support to help the mothers and, in some cases, children follow their treatment and stay in care. The intensive intervention is designed to improve children’s cognitive, social, emotional, motor, and language development, as well as their physical growth, through stimulation activities and education and referrals on key child health, nutrition, and development issues.

When it is fully rolled out in July, m2m’s Swaziland’s integrated PMTCT/ECD programme will be located in 21 sites, with six ECD Mentor Mothers at each site. m2m has also launched similar programmes in Lesotho and South Africa, and has plans to bring the ECD programme to Kenya soon.