Philani Outreach Programme
Last updated: 2014
Philani means be healthy in isiXhosa, the mother tongue of most of Philani’s mothers and staff. The Philani Outreach Programme is designed to alleviate child malnutrition and other child health and development problems in South Africa’s informal settlements. It is modeled after the Nurse Family Partnership home visiting program and World Vision’s Positive Deviance/Hearth malnutrition program. The program builds on existing community expertise by recruiting “positive deviants,” women who have raised well-nourished and healthy children despite living in poverty. Through the Philani Outreach Programme, the positive deviant women, known as outreach workers or mentor mothers, share their experiences with and support other women in the community around issues related to child health. After observing that many of the malnourished children served had been born with low birth weights and noting an increasing prevalence of HIV-positive pregnant women, Philani Outreach Programme added a component to support healthy pregnancies, called the Mother-To-Be Program.
Outreach workers, also called mentor mothers, identify families with malnourished children in their communities and invite them to participate in the home visiting program. The outreach workers share their own experiences and educate the women on health issues. They also foster mothers’ coping skills and empower them to identify the resources they need to care for their children. The outreach workers refer children who need additional medical attention to the local medical clinics.
Among those living in South Africa’s informal settlements, the program seeks to identify and serve all pregnant women; malnourished children; and children at risk of malnutrition, abuse, neglect or HIV/ AIDS.