Since 1950, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated every 7th of April as World Health Day to raise awareness about health challenges around the globe. This year, the WHO called to eliminate health inequities and come together to build a fairer, healthier world for everyone. This call to action is critical, with marginalised and vulnerable communities hit especially hard by closures and restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19, putting their health and wellbeing at even greater risk.
At mothers2mothers (m2m), we believe that quality healthcare is a fundamental human right, and our work strives to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of creating good health and well-being for all. To that end, we have evolved our tried and tested model to tackle a range of health-related challenges for women, children, and adolescents, while creating economic empowerment opportunities. Our goal is to make healthy, thriving communities the new normal in sub-Saharan Africa. Only then can we achieve a healthier, more equitable world, and create an HIV-free generation.
The “her” in health heroes
At the heart of our efforts are the 1,700 women we employ as frontline health workers, called Mentor Mothers. They provide health services, support, and education so that women, children, adolescents, and entire families can access the health services they need to stay healthy and thrive. Every day they make sure no one is left behind, and work to make health for all is a reality. By showing up for vulnerable communities, they highlight the crucial role that healthcare workers—70% of whom are female—are playing on the frontlines of not only one, but two pandemics—HIV and COVID-19.
World Health Day | You can’t spell heroes without HER
We recently asked several Mentor Mothers why achieving health for all is important to them and their communities and how they are contributing to this goal.
‘’My health is everything to me; it means that I’m a better Mentor Mother to my clients because I can’t serve them well if my own health is compromised…For me, health for all means that a mother living with HIV knows for sure she will have an HIV-negative baby, and knows she will live a quality life full of happiness and reassured that her children will not lack for basic healthcare. It’s a bright future where a simple illness doesn’t automatically mean hospitalisation…I’m proud to be part of this team of frontline health workers where I council other mothers living with HIV to have healthy babies and help build an HIV-free generation’’. – Rosa Tinga, Site Coordinator, Mozambique
“Health is very important to the women and families we serve because they will be able to take care of themselves and live a healthy lifestyle. If women and families do not have access health services, it means we would have poverty and young people who can’t do anything for themselves. So, access for us means one can put bread on her table and know that your HIV status will not be automatically passed on to your children. As a Mentor Mother, I empower people in the community to access health services. I’m so proud when I educate my clients about good health and assure them they can get health services to live healthy lives.” – Jane Njoki, Mentor Mother Team Leader, Kenya
“Health means living, it means saving lives, and helping the sick. It means giving hope and support. That is why it is important that everyone in my community has the ability to stay healthy by accessing health services. For everyone to live a normal active life, they need to stay healthy… Nothing makes me more proud than seeing my clients healthy and happy.” – Mats’oanelo Sekhesa, Mentor Mother, Lesotho