RUSSIA: MAMA+ Project
In response to a crisis of child abandonment among HIV-positive mothers in Russia, HealthRight International launched the MAMA+ project in 2005 to empower HIV-positive new mothers to keep their children in the birth family environment. MAMA+ clients are often dependent on others and face devastating consequences, including physical violence and homelessness, if their status is disclosed. MAMA+ offers confidential support to enable HIV-positive mothers to access vital health and social services for themselves and their children, while gaining the knowledge, skills, and confidence to keep their families together. By creating a stable home environment, these new mothers can improve their children’s prospects for a successful future. With its initial success in Russia, the MAMA+ model has since been expanded to serve communities in Ukraine and Vietnam.
Identifying Women at Risk of Abandoning their Children
HealthRight establishes partnerships with maternity hospitals, AIDS centers, substance abuse specialists, and other local and national organizations. These organizations and institutions identify and refer HIV-positive pregnant women at risk of abandoning their newborn children to the MAMA+ project for further intervention. Case management teams provide counseling and comprehensive HIV information, and a plan for further assistance is created for women who choose to participate in the program.
Providing Comprehensive Services
The MAMA+ Center in St. Petersburg provides a central community and a support center, where clients can access day care for infants while mothers receive services or attend legal appointments, vocational training, or job interviews. The MAMA+ team also provides support to HIV-positive mothers and their families through family visits and counseling. The team assists the family in accessing welfare support, education, and job placement, and provides care for children, such as nutritional support and medicine. In 2007, HealthRight, the Russian NGO Doctors to Children, and the Kalininsky District established the MAMA+ Halfway House to provide clients with stable housing and 24-hour support while they transition to a healthy, long-term living situation.
Reducing Stigma and Discrimination
The MAMA+ project has helped reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS among service providers and within families, through training activities, peer networks, and support groups.
Developing Local Systems and Capacity
Since May 2008, HealthRight and DTC have provided comprehensive training in MAMA+ methodology and best practices to local governmental and non-governmental service professionals to ensure MAMA+ methodology will be incorporated in the St. Petersburg health and social services system and serve as a model for years to come. Project staff are currently mentoring three City Departments for HIV-affected families in the Kalininsky, Nevsky, and Frunzensky districts of St. Petersburg and are training public and private service providers in MAMA+ methodology at a recently established city-wide training center.
OTHER PROJECTS IN RUSSIA: