The Ugandan government’s progressive HIV/AIDS policy has resulted in a 69% reduction in HIV infections among children since 2009, and increased the percentage of pregnant women living with HIV receiving antiretroviral medicines to 92% in 2014, thus meeting the Global Plan goal of 90% coverage for pregnant women. National scale-up of the Option B+ strategy is in progress, which recommends that all pregnant women who test HIV positive begin ARVs for the rest of their lives. Challenges remain in retaining women in care and providing them with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs throughout the breastfeeding period, resulting in the mother-to-child transmission rate rising from 2% at six week to 8% at the end of breastfeeding. An estimated 51% of HIV-exposed infants received an HIV text at 4-6 weeks, and 37% of children living with HIV received antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2014.*
|OVERVIEW: (As at November 2017)|
|Mentor Mothers (in health centres)||19|
|Community Site Coordinators||7|
|Mentor Mothers (in health communities)||45|
|Adult HIV prevalence**||6.5%|
mothers2mothers (m2m) Uganda launched in June 2010 as a sub-partner in JSI’s STAR-EC. STAR-EC – a six-year, district-based initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen the response to TB and HIV/AIDS in East Central Uganda. The initiative is implemented by a consortium of five partners, with JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) as the premier partner and m2m as one of four sub-partners.
m2m’s curriculum has been adapted to fit the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (eMTCT) landscape in Uganda and support national guidelines and policies, such as the inclusion of a woman’s family in her pregnancy and treatment. Family support groups exist at all m2m sites and Mentor Mothers provide health education and emotional support through both one-on-one and family support group sessions.
When the Ministry of Health rolled out Option B+ in East Central Uganda in April 2013, m2m Mentor Mothers helped pregnant women access lifetime antiretroviral treatment (ART) through the family support groups and active follow up. In 2015 90% of m2m clients (pregnant women and new mothers) were enrolled on lifelong ART. This is an improvement from 54% in 2014.
Other services Mentor Mothers offer include mother-baby pair follow up, escorting clients to appointments at different health centres, working with village health teams in the community to help women access care, and taking over non-clinical tasks at understaffed health centres so doctors and nurses can focus on medical care.
“[Before m2m opened] nobody dared to show me around. I was left on my own and it is by the grace of God that I even managed to have an HIV-negative child. There was no post-test counseling and everything looked so gloomy.”
– Nekesa, Mentor Mother