International Women’s Day – Women That Inspire Us
Today is International Women’s Day. At the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), we’re celebrating progress made – we’ve provided over 26 million women with services they need to prevent passing HIV on to their babies.
Women are central to our fight to end pediatric HIV/AIDS. Ending AIDS in children depends on the commitment of women in their families and communities.
Below are just a few of the amazing women we’ve come across in our work this year.
These women inspire us, and we hope that they inspire you too!
Elise Ngabouloup, the head nurse of the neonatal unit at the Chantal Biya Foundation Mother and Child Center in Youndé, Cameroon, has a close relationship with her patients. Elise says that the training has transformed her work, drawing her closer to the families that she cares for. Her ability to provide counseling and treatment improves her interaction with parents, who are already understandably anxious. In a typical month, as many as 50 infants may be placed in the neonatal unit, and nearly half of those mothers have not been tested for HIV prior to giving birth.
Justine Sirri is a 29-year-old mother of two living in Cameroon. When she went to the hospital to be treated for malaria, she was counseled and tested for HIV, discovering that she was HIV-positive. Shortly after, Justine became pregnant. Fortunately, the EGPAFD-supported antenatal care unit was able to provide her with prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services, so Justine feels confident that her baby will be born HIV-free. "I have the biggest role to play in terms of my child's health," she says. She feels well supported by her mentor, Madame Helen Tih, the reproductive health nurse and midwife at Bamenda Regional Hospital. "I could be dead right now," she says. "The doctors and nurses have made it so that I am here today."
Read: Am I Not The Healthy One
Emily Njerengo is a peer educator in rural Malawi. She is living with HIV; she lost her two children and husband to AIDS-related illnesses. Emily credits a safe motherhood support group with having helped her move past her grief and find a purpose educating and counseling other women. She was trained by the Foundation for Community and Capacity Development, a community-based organization that receives technical assistance from EGPAF.
Emma Dzonzi Nyirenda is an HIV-positive peer educator in rural Malawi. She has been trained to counsel other women about prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) and has formed a support group for people living with HIV in her village. She is supported by Grassroots Movement for Health and Development, a community-based organization supported by EGPAF, with funding through ViiV Healthcare. EGPAF’s support for such organizations helps build local capacity.
Margaret, a mother of seven children, is the village’s traditional birth attendant; a position that holds much respect. Until recently, Margaret would rely upon the wisdom of her grandmothers, prescribing herbal supplements and other Turkana remedies, and served as midwife for home births. But Margaret no longer attends home births. Eighteen months ago, she was trained in maternal and child health at the AIC Health Centre, which expanded HIV services through Pamoja, a project directed by EGPAF. Margaret now serves as a lifeline between her village and the health center. She was educated in the basics of HIV prevention, care, and treatment; reproductive health; antenatal and postnatal care; and nutrition. She was also trained to identify danger signs in pregnancy so that she can refer emergencies to health workers.