As 2019 comes to a close, m2m President and CEO Frank Beadle de Palomo shares some of the highlights of the year.
2019 has been a big year for mothers2mothers (m2m) as we work towards health, hope, and an HIV-free future. Through the continued impact of our programme, along with our expansion into new countries and services, we have been able to make sure that more women, children, adolescents, and families across sub-Saharan Africa access the essential health services they need and stay in care.
Before we pause for the end of year and get ready for the busy 2020 that lies ahead, I want to share with you some of our 2019 highlights. Here are Our Top 10 Reasons to Smile As We Look Back on 2019:
#1 Numbers that Speak for Themselves: Our 2018 Evaluation, released in July, showed improved quality and continued impact of our work. For the fifth year in a row, we have achieved virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, while serving 23% more clients directly.
#2 Focusing on the Most Vulnerable: 2019 got off to an exciting start with the March launch of Children and Adolescents are My Priority (CHAMP) in Mpumulanga, South Africa—a province with high numbers of AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children and adolescents, and low uptake of treatment among children living with HIV. CHAMP is supporting this population to access medical services, start on treatment, and stay in care.
#3 New Funding Commitment: LGT Venture Philanthropy, one of our long-standing supporters, generously chose to deepen their commitment to us with a new $1 million USD grant in July. This funding will help us increase our scale and impact even further.
#4 Big Welcome: We were delighted to welcome Candice Swanepoel—South African supermodel, fashion entrepreneur, and mother of two young children—to our family as a Patron in May. Candice has supported m2m since 2015, and joins an illustrious team of Patrons, including Annie Lennox, OBE, and Salma Hayek Pinault.
#5 Major Milestone: This year, m2m celebrated reaching more than 11 million women and children under age two since we began in 2001. This was one of the key takeaways from m2m’s new Quarterly Report, which aims to provide a snapshot of the scale and quality of our programmes across sub-Saharan Africa.
#6 Royal Visit: m2m was honoured to host Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex, at our head office in Cape Town, South Africa in September, where m2m Mentor Mothers shared with her the transformative impact they are having in their communities. The visit sparked a wave of interest in m2m, with over 100 press articles around the globe.
#7 Exciting New Research: The impact of m2m’s peer mentor approach was highlighted in several peer-reviewed articles published in the journal PLOS.ONE—including how m2m’s work has had a significantly positive impact on retaining women in care through the critical breastfeeding period, and the benefits of lay health workers, like m2m Mentor Mothers.
#8 Expanding into Clinical Services: For the first time in our 18-year history, m2m Mentor Mothers are providing clinical services. A team of 30 Zambian Mentor Mothers have been trained to conduct dried blood spot (DBS) testing—a method for detecting the genetic material of the HIV virus.
Meanwhile, we are embarking on a significant clinical programme in Lesotho, which will see nurses directly employed by m2m, and newly-trained Mentor Mothers delivering HIV-testing services. Equipping Mentor Mothers to take on more clinical roles is one of our strategic goals designed to support Africa’s critically understaffed health systems.
#9 Heading West: In November, we announced that we will soon be making our first foray into West Africa, launching in Ghana. Our services will have a particular focus on nurturing care and early childhood development, as one in four children in Ghana are at risk of poor development and about 3,200 children are infected with HIV each year.
#10 All of You!: We could not have achieved so much this year without the generous support of our donors and partners to whom we are incredibly grateful. Thank you for joining us to end HIV/AIDS and create healthy, thriving communities across sub-Saharan Africa. We look forward to what we can accomplish together in 2020!