Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -- Four Ethiopian HIV-positive mothers have received the 2014 REAL Awards, due to their outstanding contributions to the fight against HIV, particularly to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The global award is designed to develop greater respect and appreciation for health workers and the lifesaving care they provide.
After breaking their silence and confronting the stigma faced by people living with HIV in Ethiopia, and envisioning that no child be born with HIV from their town, the four mothers—Teberih Tsegay, Almaz Haile, Jember Alemayehu, and Yeshi Derebew—received training on prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) and began working in late 2010 as mother mentors at Korem Town’s health center of Tigray Region. Since that time, they have helped ensure that no HIV-positive mother from the town has given birth to an HIV-positive child.
Korem Health Center is one of the health centers supported by the USAID Ethiopia Network for HIV/AIDS Treatment, Care and Support activity, which is funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and implemented by a Management Sciences for Health-led consortium of international and Ethiopian organizations, including Save the Children and the National Network of Positive Women Ethiopians.
The four mother mentors carry out a number of focused PMTCT initiatives to support HIV-positive mothers receiving the services at the health center, including providing individual counselling and education sessions with newly enrolled mothers, facilitating group sessions held in an informal setting with a coffee ceremony to foster open discussion and peer support between the mothers, and educating them about family planning, exclusive breast-feeding, safe condom use and other HIV related subjects. They also encourage
HIV-positive pregnant mothers to correctly adhere to their antiretroviral treatment and follow up with those who miss their clinic appointments.
“Today, we are honoring four mother mentors, but they represent numerous brave mothers throughout the nation who are devoting their lives to help other women to bring HIV-free babies into the world. These mothers are showing us the possibility of an AIDS-free generation,” said USAID representative Jeanne Rideout.
“The presence of mother mentors at health facilities to help their fellow HIV-positive pregnant women and new mothers is a low-cost intervention that improves their uptake of PMTCT services, which brings significant improvements to their lives and those of their children,” said Bud Crandall, chief of party of the USAID activity.
“The exemplary work of the four mentor mothers demonstrates the crucial role of community health workers and volunteers, who, with the right training and resources, can effectively implement life-saving interventions and reach those who need our support most,” said Save the Children Ethiopia Country Director John Graham.
USAID Remarks REAL Awards 4-10-14 [PDF, 109 KB]
Last updated: March 19, 2015