Thousands of Ghanaian children will get a flying start to life as they and their families receive life-saving health services from mothers2mothers (m2m), an African not-for-profit organisation.
With funding support from British Airways and Comic Relief, 12 local women living with HIV have been trained and are employed by m2m as “Mentor Mothers”.
Working from two health facilities and in surrounding communities in Ashaiman and Atua, these frontline health workers have recently begun to deliver vital health services, education and psychosocial support to both HIV-positive and -negative women and their families.
m2m’s services are designed to ensure children get the best start in life, which means being born HIV-free and receiving an essential package of early childhood development (ECD) services. Over 11,000 women and children under three are expected to benefit in the next two years.
“We are delighted that Ghana has become the first West African member of the m2m family, and the ninth country in which we are working,” said Frank Beadle de Palomo, m2m’s President and CEO, at a high-level launch event today in Accra.
“Our community-led model delivers results—we’ve helped to almost end mother-to-child transmission of HIV for our clients for five years in a row and 97% of those enrolled in our ECD services in 2017 achieved all of their milestones by their first birthday. Thanks to British Airways and Comic Relief, we are confident we can play our part to ensure a healthy, thriving future in Ghana”, he added.
m2m’s launch in Ghana comes as the nation has shown global leadership by becoming the first country to adopt the World Health Organization’s (WHO) and UNICEF’s Nurturing Care For Early Childhood Development framework—a new, globally recognised framework for best practice in ECD. Despite this, Ghana’s youngest citizens still face significant challenges. More than 3,000 new HIV infections were recorded among infants and children in 2017,  and over one in four young Ghanaian children lag behind in language, cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development  .
m2m will be tackling these challenges by promoting responsive parenting and nurturing care to parents and caregivers of HIV-exposed and other vulnerable young children—addressing factors such as the importance of play, nutrition, and accessing health services.
To ensure comprehensive care, these activities are delivered alongside other essential health services, including prevention and treatment of HIV and care and referrals for family planning, cervical cancer screening, and child immunisation. All this will be achieved by working in close partnership with local stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, the Ghana AIDS Commission, the Ghana Health Service, and many more.
After visiting Ashaiman Polyclinic outside Accra to see m2m’s work in action, Alex Cruz, British Airways Chairman and CEO, said: ”As a global airline, we bring people together every day and we are committed to having a positive impact in the communities to which we fly. Our support to m2m, through our Flying Start partnership with Comic Relief, is a shining example of what can be achieved in Ghana and the other African countries where it operates. mothers2mothers truly is an African success story and we are very proud to support it.”
Ruth Davison, Interim CEO of Comic Relief, said: “mothers2mothers is a fantastic example of an organisation that empowers local leaders to help, educate and elevate communities. I am delighted that our funding partnership with BA has helped m2m bring its vitally important services to Ghana. We are proud to have supported their work over the last 11 years as they have created over 10,000 jobs for women living with HIV and improved the lives of more than 11 million women and young children.”
About mothers2mothers mothers2mothers (m2m) is an African NGO that unlocks the potential of women to create healthy families and eliminate paediatric AIDS. m2m trains, employs, and helps empower local women living with HIV as Mentor Mentors—community healthcare workers who provide services in understaffed health clinics and communities. Mentor Mothers educate and support women and their families to overcome barriers to medical care, and ensure they receive the medication and health services they need and stay in treatment. From an initial focus on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, today m2m Mentor Mothers provide family- centred support from pregnancy and childhood to adolescence. Through an integrated Early Childhood Development programme, m2m looks beyond survival to give children the opportunity to thrive, and then provides them with necessary knowledge and skills in adolescence to protect the next generation from HIV infection.
Since m2m started in 2001, it has reached over 11M women and children under two, and created more than 10,000 jobs for women living with HIV. Today, m2m operates across nine sub-Saharan African countries. For more: m2m.org
About Flying Start Flying Start is British Airways global charity partnership with Comic Relief, launched in 2010, which focuses on helping disadvantaged young people have a better start in life. Flying Start has raised £24m over nine years through onboard donations, sponsored events and challenges and helped more than 800,000 people around the world.