Child and infant malnourishment is a significant and growing problem in the developing world. Dr. Rotheram designed the Philani program to help mothers circumvent the barriers to accessing conventional medical care for child malnourishment. She trained community mothers to visit pregnant women and new moms at home to assess their babies’ weight and help the peer mothers solve their nutrition problems. Using local mothers as community health workers and using technology to bridge distance, counteract power issues, and reduce stigma, her work resulted in better health for South Africa’s children at a much lower cost than the conventional programs that few could access.
Diabetes Buddies South Africa
In addition to her Philani, Philani Plus (+), and Masihambisane programs for mothers and children, Dr. Rotheram created another community-building peer mentor program, this time for the prevention and care of diabetes. Diabetes Buddies for Women in South Africa is an example of a social support intervention in which Dr. Rotheram combined the successes of home visits and local peer community health workers with custom books and mobile phones (including text messages). In this way she circumvented the typical roadblocks of rural communities with limited electrical power, under- staffed clinics, unreliable transportation, and lack of financial/medical resources. Funded by Peers for Progress and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Rotheram’s intervention makes accessible, scalable, replicable, and sustainable diabetes prevention accessible and cost effective.