Illustrator: Pau Gasol Valls


Mothers2mothers (m2m) is an African primary health care organisation that employs women living with HIV as community health workers across 10 African nations. These Mentor Mothers deliver integrated health services to their peers at clinics and in communities to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to the services they need to be healthy and stay in care.


The African continent is facing a preventable health crisis that is fuelled by inequity. Vulnerable African women and children are being hit the hardest, and African communities are unable to reach their full social and economic potential. For example: access to health care remains a critical issue. Over 600 million people across the African continent (52% of the population) cannot access the health care they need. Two out of three mothers who die during pregnancy or birth are from sub-Saharan Africa, and the majority of these deaths are preventable. Across the region, girls and young women (ages 15-24) are three times more likely to acquire HIV compared to their male peers. Furthermore, diseases that we know how to prevent or treat, like HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, cervical cancer, and diabetes, are having a devastating impact on communities across the continent.

Technical details & Operations

For more than two decades, m2m has demonstrated the power of community-based female leaders to respond to the exact needs of communities, by employing women living with HIV as community health workers who are known as Mentor Mothers.  Mentor Mothers provide health services, education, and support to women and families at health centres, doors-to-door in their community, and through e-services. Through employment and the status afforded by their role as health workers, Mentor Mothers become role models and leaders. They are valuable, sought-after resources in their communities who inspire and lift up other women to take actions that benefit the health and well-being of themselves and their families, creating a ripple effect of real and tangible change.   

The power of the model not only reaches over one million women, children, adolescents, and families each year with life-changing services and education, it also creates vital economic empowerment opportunities for women.  Employment as Mentor Mothers enables women to have a bigger voice in their families and in their communities, and take more control of their lives, health, and future.

Through our ambitious 2022-2026 strategic plan, this proven, peer-led model is being scaled up to double down on ending HIV, as well as to tackle new health challenges that put people living with HIV at greater risk and reach more people with the aim of building a fairer, healthier future. The employment of local women as community health workers means that we are delivering a model that prioritises health care for families who need it most, delivered by women who know them best.

Deployment & Impact

Since m2m began in 2001, we have created jobs for nearly 12,000 women living with HIV as community health workers. Together, they have reached more than 15 million individuals with life-changing health services and education, and helped keep more than two million at-risk women and children alive who otherwise might be at risk of maternal and child mortality. In 2022—the first year of implementation of our strategic plan—we were proud to deliver exciting results: achieving continued impact at scale; contributing to the Global Goal of ending HIV, including meeting or surpassing all of UNAIDS ambitious 2025 targets designed to bring the AIDS epidemic under control; improving health and opportunity for women and families; and making notable progress in addressing health challenges that pose greater risks to individuals living with HIV, such as tuberculosis, cervical cancer, and malaria. 

Among the highlights in 2022: 

  • They achieved virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV among our enrolled clients for the 9th consecutive year, with a transmission rate of just 0.5% in 2022. 
  • Only 0.45% of m2m clients who were HIV-negative when enrolled in our program contracted HIV in 2022, the third consecutive year that we achieved a decline and 5.12 times lower than the global benchmark of 2.3%. (UNICEF) 
  • 91% of the clients reported consistent condom use, critical for preventing HIV and other STIs, and as an element of family planning.
  • 98% of children receiving m2m early childhood development services achieved all of their developmental milestones at 12 months.
  • 142,510 m2m clients were pre-screen for tuberculosis (TB) in 2022, almost twice as many as in 2021. In addition, 100% of m2m clients who tested positive for TB were linked to treatment.
  • 96% of m2m clients referred for cervical pre-cancer screening in Lesotho agreed to proceed with the procedure (specifically, visual inspection with acetic acid) compared to 34% in 2021, and 100% of clients diagnosed with cervical pre-cancer were linked to treatment.