On June 10th, surrounded by activists and dignitaries including Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, mothers2mothers Junior Trainer Babalwa Mbono took part in a historic event – the launch of the “Countdown to Zero: Global Plan Towards The Elimination Of New HIV Infections Among Children By 2015 And Keeping Their Mothers Alive.” The “Countdown to Zero” plan is intended to stop children from contracting HIV and to keep mothers healthy and alive to raise their children. Mbono spoke on behalf of women living with HIV to highlight the importance of using HIV-positive mothers as a tool to fight the spread of the virus.
“It is important for anyone who has just found out they are HIV-positive to know someone who has been through the same process, someone who has had the same fears and questions, a person who now is living proof that, as long as an HIV-positive person is living a healthy life, they can have an HIV-negative baby. It is important to have people to look up to and lean on at this terrifying time,” said Mbono.
The world has already gotten the message. Our Mentor Mother model has been adopted as a central part Global Plan. This is a critical change from the past when medicines were assumed to equal medical care. mothers2mothers has always called for there to be more focus on creating demand for treatment – educating and informing women about how to help themselves and their children. Now, the world is saying “we agree”. This is critically important and can save lives.
The Global Plan includes calls 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;
- Recognition of the central role Mentor Mothers and other women openly living with HIV, play in efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination.