Today, we are delighted to share that we have received a significant donation from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett. On behalf of the 1,800 African women living with HIV employed by mothers2mothers (m2m) and the over one million people m2m delivers health services to each year, we thank Ms Scott and Mr Jewett. We are honoured, inspired, and committed to putting it to the best possible use.
We believe this investment recognises how our pioneering model of training and employing African women living with HIV as community health workers delivers both health and economic empowerment impacts for marginalised communities. Since 2001, we have reached over 12 million women and children under two with our services and created over 11,000 new jobs for African women. Among our proudest achievements—we have achieved the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV for six years in a row for our enrolled clients, ensuring a new generation starts life HIV-free. (Read more: Our Impact)
This gift comes at an important time, as the world is waking up to how related inequalities across health, gender, and race conspire to keep communities trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, discrimination, and poor health. In many ways, COVID-19 magnified the impact of existing inequalities. In 2020, for the first time in almost 20 years, progress to end paediatric AIDS stalled in sub-Saharan Africa, and Black communities were the most likely to be severely affected by COVID-19 around the globe. However, COVID-19 has also highlighted solutions that work to overcome these interlinked injustices and deliver health for all…and they are invariably, like m2m’s, community-led and rooted in human rights and social justice.
There are early signs that these lessons are being learned. This gift will enable us to more than double our reach in the coming years, and this is incredibly critical as world leaders are re-committing to end the AIDS pandemic. Last week, world leaders at the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS agreed on a bold new strategy to end paediatric AIDS by 2025, and the broader HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030, with an explicit focus on eradicating the related inequalities that leave people vulnerable to HIV. Yet, AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading cause of death among women aged 15–49 years in sub-Saharan Africa, six out of seven new infections among adolescents are among girls, and almost half of children living with HIV are not on life-saving treatment. We cannot allow these injustices to persist. As a result, m2m is increasing the scale of our ambition, and simultaneously shortening the timeline in which we plan to achieve our goals. We must use the combined momentum of this new global consensus and heightened awareness around inequality and health to aggressively drive progress and impact for the communities we serve.
With so much to do, and more urgency than ever to achieve our mission, hard work, creativity, and significantly increased human and financial resources will be required if we are to succeed. We are determined to ensure this gift lays a critical foundation that will allow us to increase our reach and impact while also unlocking new partnerships to go even further, even faster.
Thank you to Ms Scott and Mr Jewett for the trust you have placed in us. We can’t wait to share our outcomes!