Updated Feb 19, 2021

mothers2mothers: Mentor Mother Model

http://www.m2m.org

Carolyn Mcewen

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At the height of the AIDS pandemic in 2001, mothers2mothers’ (m2m) Founder, Dr. Mitch Besser MD, was struggling to get pregnant women newly diagnosed with HIV in South Africa to access lifesaving treatment, when he hit on an idea—employ former patients who had successfully adhered to treatment and given birth to an HIV-free child as peers called “Mentor Mothers” to help others walk this same pa...
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At the height of the AIDS pandemic in 2001, mothers2mothers’ (m2m) Founder, Dr. Mitch Besser MD, was struggling to get pregnant women newly diagnosed with HIV in South Africa to access lifesaving treatment, when he hit on an idea—employ former patients who had successfully adhered to treatment and given birth to an HIV-free child as peers called “Mentor Mothers” to help others walk this same path. This simple peer-based model quickly caught on and proved effective—supporting mothers to stay healthy and children to be born HIV-free. Fast-forward two decades and m2m has grown into an organization that employs Mentor Mothers as community health workers across ten African nations, and has reached over 11M pregnant women, new mothers, and children. We have achieved virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV among our enrolled clients for six years in a row, with a transmission rate of just 1.9% in 2019, significantly lower than the United Nations benchmark of 5%. Our model has been held up as best practice by UNAIDS, UNICEF and others. We have also leveraged our model and the strong relationships Mentor Mothers build with their clients to deliver complementary services that help entire families thrive, in such areas as early childhood development, adolescent health, and non-communicable diseases. We have also created livelihood and empowerment opportunities for over 11,000 African women living with HIV, who might otherwise be among society’s most marginalized.
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MLC Vanguard
  

Stage 5: Scaling

Focus Areas:

Health

HealthSEE LESS

Implemented In:

South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and 4 MoreSEE ALL

South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho and KenyaSEE LESS

11,000,000
Lives Impacted to Date
7
Countries Implemented In

Problem

1) There is a shortage of 4.2 million frontline healthcare workers on the African Continent, according to the World Health Organization, making it difficult for women and families to get the health services they need. 2) HIV/AIDS is stigmatized in many communities throughout the world, creating challenges for people living with HIV to access lifesaving treatment. 3) Women face profound gender inequality in the countries where m2m operates. 4) Adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, accounting for five out of six new infections among adolescents aged 15 to 19.

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Solution

1) Since our founding, m2m has employed over 11,000 women living with HIV as community health workers. 2) Through this employment, women become role models and leaders in their communities, which helps to reduce stigma associated with HIV. 3) By employing women as frontline health workers, we are shifting the traditional paradigm of men being the primary source of income in families, and providing opportunities for women to empower themselves through education and employment. 4) Services are delivered by Mentor Mothers, who are living with HIV and are from the same communities as their clients—creating empathy and shared experiences that lead to more effective services, and are often underpinned by a deep personal commitment by the Mentor Mother herself.

Competitive Advantage

Our model differs from other international NGOs because we employ women as frontline health workers (not volunteers), and because these women are living with HIV and are from the same communities as the women and families they serve.

Milestone

Nov 2020
Lives Impacted
11,000,000
Date Unknown
Created
Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In
Uganda
Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In
Tanzania
Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In
South Africa