MAR HAS PARTNERED WITH UBUNTU PATHWAYS IN THE PORT ELISABETH TOWNSHIPS
Nomthandazo and her baby boy Likhonco live in the Zwide township of Port Elisabeth, South Africa. Townships are peri-urban communities that often lack basic utilities such as electricity, water, sewage and waste management. Housing is overcrowded and make-shift, and the population has limited access to quality health services. This context makes pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care extremely challenging.
Since 2019, MAR has partnered with Ubuntu Pathways, a non-profit organization that provides health, education, and social support in the Port Elisabeth townships. MAR and Ubuntu have been working together to strengthen Ubuntu’s provision of prenatal and postpartum care for women like Nomthandazo, with the addition of a full-time head doctor and increased capacity-building of health staff in maternal and infant care.
Thanks to this program, Nomthandazo received the high-quality prenatal care she needed, in particular as a pregnant woman living with HIV/AIDS. HIV is the most common cause of death among women in pregnancy and childbirth in South Africa, home to the world’s largest population living with the virus. Ubuntu’s protocol of prevention of mother-to-child transmission has a 100% success rate. Nomthandazo had a safe pregnancy and delivery and gave birth to healthy baby boy Lizhonco. Post birth, Ubuntu’s medical team and social workers have made regular home visits to check in on mother and baby, deliver newborn supplies, monitor Lizhonco’s growth and provide breastfeeding support.
MAR and Ubuntu are planning to launch a birth companion pilot program in collaboration with two local health facilities to ensure more women like Nomthandazo continue to have holistic support before, during and after labor.