Peer support groups are a cost-effective, evidence-based practice that has been shown to improve health behaviors and attitudes across the health care spectrum and improve community-to-clinic linkages.
Many HAI programs included clinic-based or health system-run peer support groups to extend the reach of the public health system and to strengthen the link between health providers and the communities they serve.
In Timor-Leste, where child malnutrition affects >50% of children under 5, HAI established Mother and Family Support Groups to promote healthy nutrition practices across two municipalities in Timor-Leste. HAI worked closely with the Ministry of Health and municipal health teams to establish the groups and train, and mentor group leaders.
In Côte d’Ivoire, HAI contributed financial, technical, and administrative support to local organizations like Bouaké Eveil, a non-profit started by health activists from the local HIV-positive community, to organize support groups for HIV-affected individuals and families. For over a decade, these local NGO-led support groups have played a critical role in building resilience within this community and linking them to both clinical and social support services.
“When I come to the Friday [support group] meetings they give me advice until I find my strength, my courage.”
— 26 year-old Ivoirienne, HIV Support Group participant, previously non-adherent to treatment after giving birth
“I know that I am not alone. [Support groups] encourage me to come back.
— 30 year-old Ivoirienne, HIV Support Group participant, previously lost to follow-up for one year, now active on ART.