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mothers2mothers: Time to Relaunch Global Efforts to Keep Women and Children Alive

NEW YORK, 10 June, 2011 – mothers2mothers spokesperson Babalwa Mbono, an HIV-positive mother of three from South Africa, yesterday helped launch “Countdown to Zero: Global Plan Towards The Elimination Of New HIV Infections Among Children By 2015 And Keeping Their Mothers Alive” a call to action to stop children from being born with HIV, and to keep their mothers alive.
Mbono spoke on behalf of women living with HIV at the United Nations with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, former President Bill Clinton, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.  She spoke of the positive impact of organizations, like mothers2mothers, that provide support and education for HIV-positive mothers. “I was able to know how to take care of myself and my baby, and I was able to learn how to take my treatment and how to do the tests that are needed, and also I learned how to feed my baby, and I also learned how to fight stigma associated with HIV.”
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton remarked, “We have to learn from local successes.  In the end, PMTC and ART treatment programs of all kinds and all maternal and child health, these things are intensely personal.  So, we need to do it in a way that is consistent with what local people tell us will work and be accepted.  Groups like Partners in Health and mothers2mothers have shown us how critical it is to do that and how successful they have been because they did.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called for action. “It’s all the same, mothers and children, here and there around the world…they all feel the same love for their children as mothers everywhere.  They deserve exactly the same options for treatment.  As the developed world shows, there is every reason to believe that we can save millions of lives across the developing world.”
Worldwide, there have been significant gains towards reducing the number of new cases of HIV in babies.  But there is still much work to be done.  Over 2 million adults and an estimated 400,000 children are infected with HIV every year.  “Countdown to Zero” is an ambitious new Global Plan that directs the actions of the 22 countries[i] in the world which are home to 90% of the children born with HIV. It sets ambitious new goals: to eliminate new cases of HIV in children and halve the number of mothers dying by 2015. mothers2mothers is proud to have played  a role in developing this plan, and is firmly committed to playing a central role in helping to  meet the Global Plan’s ambitious targets.
In particular, mothers2mothers echoes the Global Plan in calling for:
·       The central involvement of women living with HIV, including Mentor Mothers – a mother living with HIV who is trained, employed and paid as part of a medical team to support, educate and empower pregnant women and new mothers about their health and their babies’ health;
·       New approaches to task shifting and task sharing, by promoting opportunities for Mentor Mothers and other women living with HIV to provide education and support in health care facilities and communities, to build stronger human resources for health;
·       Community resources and assets to be fully engaged in actions to achieve the 2015 goal;
·       Bold targets, clear timelines, budgets and plans to be set at national level, and for communities to be resourced to monitor governments’ actions to meet these goals;
·       Recognition of the central role Mentor Mothers and other women openly living with HIV, play in efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination;
·       National leaders to take action to create demand for services that will protect children and improve women’s health, and address the needs of women and their families for education and psychosocial support;
·       National leaders to take action to improve the quality of services, including removing sub-optimal drugs such as single dose Nevirapine.
We also applaud new contributions answering the call to action including an additional $75 million from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), $15 million from Johnson & Johnson, and $40 million from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Video of the announcement can be viewed online.
mothers2mothers is an NGO based in Cape Town, South Africa that helps to stop children from getting HIV and keep their mothers healthy.  mothers2mothers trains, employs and pays nearly 1800 new mothers living with HIV in nine African countries[ii] to provide education and support to women just like themselves. These “Mentor Mothers” become professional members of health delivery teams — working alongside doctors and nurses to serve the needs of HIV-positive pregnant women and new mothers and to help fill the gaps in critically understaffed health systems.mothers2mothers currently reaches 20 percent of the pregnant women living with HIV in the world.
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