Projects |

Philani Mentor Mothers

Mentor Mothers were trained to help new mothers in their area combat HIV, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome & Malnutrition through a home-visiting intervention.

WHAT The Philani Mentor Mothers Program
WHERE Khayelitsha, South Africa


Pregnancy creates a window of opportunity for improving families’ lifestyles and long term outcomes. The health and well-being of South African children depends on effectively intervening with the intersecting epidemics of alcohol, HIV, TB, and child malnutrition. While clinics are the typical sites for treating each of these health problems, we are currently examining a home-visiting model as an alternative to clinic-based interventions. Our project capitalizes on the opportunities of pregnancy to shift family’s long-term behavioral patterns, by having neighborhood Mentor Mothers (MM) deliver a home-based prevention program.

What we did

The Philani project is a long-term cluster randomised controlled trial that tests the efficacy (in a real world situation) of paraprofessional Mentor Mothers to help women to better meet their antenatal and postnatal health and their mental health challenges. Testing of real world models of early community-based interventions using community health workers are lacking currently in low and middle income countries. This study attempts to fill this gap. The Philani model is easily scalable, and could be integrated (without adaptation) into the re-engineered primary health care system as currently envisaged by the South African National Department of Health.  A five year follow up of the intervention has recently been completed.

Leaders, collaborators and funders

The project is led by Prof. Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus (UCLA), Dr. Ingrid Le Roux (Philani Child Health and Nutrition Project), Prof. Mark Tomlinson and Dr. Jackie Stewart (Stellenbosch University).  It has been funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and more recently Ilifa Labantwana (DG Murray Trust).