Chevron Corporation has announced a partnership initiative with Pact, the Business Leadership Council (BLC), mothers2mothers and the Global Fund to aggressively combat crisis-level mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.
"We must intensify our collective efforts to meet the serious challenges to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV head-on," said Rhonda Zygocki, Executive Vice President, Policy and Planning for Chevron. "We are mobilizing resources and strategic partners with specialized expertise to address critical issues facing Nigeria, Angola and South Africa in order to move toward an HIV-free generation by 2015."
The risk of mother-to-child transmission is an unfortunate reality in these countries. In Nigeria, approximately 75,000 babies are born with HIV each year, and most of these infections are due to transmission from their mothers.
In South Africa, the country has the largest number of people living with HIV in the world, and approximately 30 percent of pregnant women were HIV-positive in 2009. Additionally in Angola, where more than 60 percent of the population is under 25 years old, an estimated 15 percent of the country's HIV cases are caused by mother-to-child transmission.
"As a company, we depend on a healthy society and healthy workforce," Zygocki said. "With HIV/AIDS disproportionately affecting women in Africa, it is critical that we come together in the fight against this disease. At Chevron, we recognize prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV as both a critical intervention for the families of our employees and the communities where they work, as well as a realistic approach to the elimination of HIV entirely."
The PMTCT partnership areas of focus include building the capacity of civil society organizations to increase PMTCT practices in Nigeria's Bayelsa State through education, raising awareness and reducing stigma.
BLC is to support the government of Nigeria to develop and implement models for accelerated PMTCT delivery over the next two years, while mothers2mothers is to lay the groundwork to establish its Mentor Mother model in Nigeria during the next 18 months.
The Global Fund is to advance PMTCT programmes targeting Angola and South Africa.
This partnership is part of the $20 million commitment made by Chevron in June 2011 at the United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS to support the global plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keep their mothers alive.
Chairman of the Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free (BLC), John Megrue, said: “Nigeria is the front line in the fight to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and its government is ready to dramatically scale up testing and treatment for mothers – through both public and private healthcare providers.
“Chevron is committed to improving public health in Nigeria and around the world, and I am grateful for its generous support to the BLC and to the Government of Nigeria.
Together, we want to work with Nigeria's leaders to translate their vision for a generation born HIV free into reality,” he added.
President of Pact, Mr. Mark Viso, said: “Every mother wants to protect her baby," said Mark Viso, an international NGO at work in 29 countries. "But if a mother with HIV never knows she is living with HIV, she can do little to prevent infecting her baby.
“In the Bayelsa state of Nigeria, where nearly 100,000 women become pregnant in any given year, an astounding 95,000 are never tested for HIV. That has to change, and Chevron is helping make that change possible,” he noted.
The co-founder of mothers2mothers, Robin Smalley, said: “Every mother living with HIV should have access to the support and care she needs to defend her health and protect her baby from HIV infection.
“We are thrilled to partner with Chevron to expand the reach of our Mentor Mother model and champion the health and well-being of Nigeria's mothers and children,” he stated.
The General Manager of the Global Fund, Gabriel Jaramillo, said: “The private sector is an extremely important partner in the fight against the disease, both in program implementation and as a supportive donor.
“Chevron became the first Corporate Champion in 2008 and recommitted additional resources in 2010. We are hugely encouraged by its continued support for the Global Fund and we hope that other private sector companies will follow Chevron's example,” he stressed.
Chevron's commitment to addressing PMTCT and fighting HIV/AIDS is longstanding. The company has been part of the fight against AIDS since 1986 when it joined 13 other Bay Area companies to promote education and reduce stigma in the workplace. In the 1990s, Chevron expanded its efforts internationally, and in 2005, became the first oil and gas company to implement a global HIV/AIDS policy for its employees.
The company currently implements PMTCT programmes for its workforce in Angola and Nigeria by providing comprehensive medical care for employees and their dependents to prevent the transmission of HIV.
These programes have already achieved remarkable impact. For eight years in Angola and 12 years in Nigeria, Chevron has had no reports of mother-to-child transmission of HIV among its employees or qualified dependents.
From 2008 through 2010, Chevron invested $30 million in Global Fund grants – $20 million of which has helped to support HIV/AIDS programmes in Nigeria, South Africa, Thailand and Indonesia.
In 2011 to 2013, Chevron is directing $25 million to the U.S. Fund for the Global Fund to support programs dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS and reducing mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
Pact is a promise of a better tomorrow for all those who are poor and marginalized. Working in partnership to develop local solutions that enable people to own their own future, Pact helps people and communities build their own capacity to generate income, improve access to quality health services, and gain lasting benefit from the sustainable use of the natural resources around them. At work in 29 countries, Pact is building local promise with an integrated, adaptive approach that is shaping the future of international development. www.pactworld.org
The Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free is a bold, private-sector led initiative with one goal: to end the transmission of HIV from mothers to children by 2015. BLC members are a select group of leaders who represents media, finance, telecommunications, health, technology and retail and is part of the MDG Health Alliance.
The mothers2mothers (m2m) is eliminating transmission of HIV from mothers to babies and sustaining the health of women and children with its proven Mentor Mother model.
Since its inception, m2m has reached more than one million mothers in nine countries. Found in Cape Town in 2001, m2m is a partner in the United Nations' Global Plan towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive.
The Global Fund is a unique public-private partnership and international financing institution dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria. This partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities represents an innovative approach to international health financing.