The following news comes from the Maternal and Neonatal Health (MNH) programme at JHPIEGO, and from the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA):
In June 2003, just before the President and First Lady's visit, the MNH Program's social mobilisation director travelled to Nigeria to assist with a CEDPA-sponsored workshop on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS.
Working with workshop participants, she shared MN H Program experiences, frameworks, and approaches to safe motherhood, including tire Program's birth preparedness/complication readiness matrix, a programming and advocacy tool outlining the responsibilities, actions, practices, and skills needed to help ensure the safety and well being of the woman and her newborn throughout pregnancy, labour, childbirth, and the postparttum period.
The group used the matrix, and found it helpful for strategically linking PMTCT to safe motherhood. The MNH Program is pleased to note tiffs impact of its tools and materials beyond MNH Program countries.
Upon conclusion of the workshop, participants (including representatives from Catholic Relief Services, Family Health International, JHU/CCP, Pathfinder International, Policy Project, USAID, and a group of women living with HIV/AIDS) agreed to form the White-Red Ribbon Alliance in Nigeria (WRRAN), and created the white/red symbol to represent the relationship between safe motherhood and HIV/AIDS prevention. The WRRAN will be a part of the global White Ribbon Alliance, but will stress PMTCT, voluntary counseling and testing, anti-retroviral therapy, and exclusive breastfeeding, as well as safe motherhood practices.
Peggy Curlin, President of CEDPA, writes: 'When Mrs Bush, the US First Lady, visited Nigeria recently, they met a young Nigerian woman who has AIDS. In a gesture of goodwill, she pinned a red and white ribbon on bits. Bush's lapel, bringing attention to the millions of children afflicted with HIV/AIDS through pregnancy and breastfeeding.
'It is imperative that this brief meeting and the weighty nature of this symbolic pin raise awareness of the link between safe motherhood and HIV/AIDS. By making this trip, President Bush took a critical step in focusing the world's attention on Africa. [We hope he will] use his power to shine a spotlight on HIV/AIDS to build political support on the continent for creating and bank rolling substantial prevention, care and stigma-reducing initiatives especially for the emerging problem...