Over eleven thousand (11,000) Ghanaian women and children under three years and their families are to benefit from a lifesaving health service from mothers2mothers (M2M), an African Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).
The South African based NGO, which operates in eight countries, launched their presence and operations in Ghana this week at a ceremony in the capital city Accra with twelve (12) women living with HIV trained and employed by m2m as “Mentor Mothers” or peer educators.
The Ghana Country lead by Technical Specialist, Yvonne Prempeh-Ferguson tell us that, m2m accepting to operate in Ghana was due to its global leadership shown by becoming the first country to adopt the World Health Organization’s and UNICEF’s ‘Nurturing Care For Early Childhood Development’ framework (a new globally recognized framework for best practice in ECD.)
According to statistics, more than 3,000 new HIV infections were recorded among infants and children in 2017, and over one in four 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 to address factors such as the importance of play, nutrition, and accessing health services, Mrs Prempeh-Ferguson noted.
“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 immunization.”
M2M will achieve all these by working in close partnership with local stakeholders; Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, Ghana Health Services, Ghana AIDS Commission and others, she said.
Mrs Prempeh-Ferguson spoke about the challenges m2m faces and anticipating to face in the implementation process.
Dr Ernest Asiedu, Director at the Ministry of Health who represented the Deputy Health Minister acknowledged that, the ministry sees m2m initiative as essential and a good one as its in line with the ministry’s medium-term development plan.
A 42 years old mother of five children, Faustina Ocansey, narrates her ordeal to us, how stigmation collapsed her business and she nearly killed herself through over-thinking after she lost her last child and husband to HIV/AIDS in 2007.
Her predicament started when her late child experienced severe coughing after 5 months of birth, she took the child to Tema General Hospital where, after series of test, the child was diagnosed of Tuberculosis. The medical doctor then requested to know if there was anyone in the house who also coughs, she then revealed to the doctor that, her husband also coughs the doctor then requested he also goes through tests. It was later confirmed he was Tuberculosis and HIV positive.
This compelled the doctor to recommend to Faustina and her 5 month old child to also test for HIV, where it was confirmed they were positive as well, fortunately for her the other five children were negative.
A month after they had started taking medications (anti retroviral) She lost the child and husband with just some days interval.
The news of her positive status became a spreading rumour in her community which affected her food business. She had to stop the food selling due to no patronage by her usual customers.
Life then became miserable and a hell as she had no hope and help to survive on with her five children.
Her biggest challenge has been stigmatization and lack of employment for life sustenance and caring for her children’s education.
Faustina is now a Mentor Mother, trained and employed by m2m, and she is much excited about her new self-development. Although, the m2m project is only lasting for two years. We wonder how she will survive after the two years when the project ends in May 2021.
A followup to Faustina’s house where we met three of her five children revealed details of her life situation.
Her children Bernice Laweh, 27years and Belinda Laweh, 23 years shared with us how their mother has been an inspirational and a mentor to them.
Bernice talking about some of the life challenges they faced growing up with was people not buying their mother’s food due to stigma of the HIV. She narrates that, they sometimes slept on an empty stomach.
Belinda says, in spite of their mother’s health condition and being a single mother, she did her best for them to have completed at least the high school with one child about completing the university this year. Bernice has completed Journalism and Secretarial College, Belinda is in a fashion school now with the last two children in high school currently, Belinda narrates.
Source: Adnan Adams Mohammed