Philani Mentor Mothers Programme

Home visiting for maternal and child health

The Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Project has been addressing child health and nutrition problems in informal settlements around Cape Town since 1979.

Together with the Department of Health, the Philani Mentor Mother Programme aims to combat the health challenges faced by women living in poverty, with the aim of improving maternal and child morbidity and mortality.  This community-based programme focuses on bringing a supportive and informative primary healthcare intervention into the homes of families.  Trained ‘Mentor Mothers’ guide mothers through the rehabilitation of their underweight children, support pregnant mothers to improve birth outcomes, decrease the number of children born with a low birth weight, and assist in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

A randomised control trial, conducted by the University of California and Stellenbosch University from 2009, delivered and studied Philani’s Mentor Mothers home visiting programme to a cohort of pregnant women and their children, up to the age of 18 months.

The Ilifa partnership has enabled Stellenbosch University to evaluate the continuing impact of the programme on the children and their caregivers. Currently, the research study is at the stage of data collection with mothers of children who have turned five years old.

Results from earlier analysis of the research highlights the importance of intervening across multiple risks to maternal and child health (particularly maternal depression and alcohol use), to positively impact maternal and infant outcomes.

Read more about the Philani Mentor Mother Programme here.