1000 day sum Macah


To ensure the optimal health of mothers and children from conception to age two, so that the children can meet their full developmental potential.

‘Make the first 1 000 days count’ initiative

The three-year awareness-raising initiative was launched on 1 November 2020 as an initiative of the University of the Free State and the MACAH Foundation in co-operation with the Department of Institutional Advancement and the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The importance of the first 1 000 days

The first 1 000 days of life – from conception to end of age two – is a critical period during which children’s brains can form as many as 1 000 neural connections every second, a once-in-a-lifetime pace that will never be repeated during their lives. What is critical is that these connections are the building blocks of every child’s future. Yet, in conditions of poverty, attendant malnutrition and maternal diseases, this foundation is significantly weakened, resulting in, among other things, irreversible damage to children’s brain development, poor growth and compromised immunity. It has also been prompted by a growing understanding of how early disparities in children’s functioning can develop and the problems that this can create for future education, employment, and opportunities (Brinkman et al., 2012, 2013; Centre for Community Child Health, 2008; Woolfenden et al., 2013).

Changing the status quo

The planned awareness programme will focus on the following:

  • To Improve knowledge about the first 1 000 days concept, highlighting the negative consequences of teenage and unwanted pregnancies in our communities.
  • To focus on the physical, emotional, social and mental wellbeing of the mother – before and from conception.
  • The importance of nutritional intervention as a crucial part of the foundation to break this vicious cycle of malnutrition and stunting. Particular focus on promoting exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of the baby’s life.
  • To create awareness of the critical role of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) in strengthening the mother-child dyad and the power thereof in stimulating growth and development of the new born baby.
  • Particular emphasis on the role of the father, as part of involvement in raising our children and supporting our mothers.
  • To promote the importance of access to quality healthcare and adherence to immunisation programmes.

Projected outcomes

The aim of a successful initiative can have the following positive outcomes:

  1. The initiative of the first 1 000 day is to bring about interventions which can address the Under- Five Mortality Rates (U5MR) including the Neonatal Mortality Rates (NMR), Infant Mortality Rates (IMR) and the Perinatal Mortality Rates (PMR). (South Africa's latest U5MR, NMR, IMR and PMR statistical comparison)
  2. To improve the potential for optimal growth and development of children in their first 1 000 days of life (from conception until they are two years old).
  3. To improve the physical and mental health of expectant mothers, which, as a result, could prevent and decrease the maternal mortality rates in Central South Africa and beyond.
  4. To prevent unwanted and teenage pregnancies, which has a direct link to maternal mortality.

The path to greater prosperity starts in a child’s first 1 000 days. Therefore, building knowledge and investing in this crucial health imperative, will build prosperity, reduce disparities and enable the future generations of South Africa to lead quality lives.

Projected cost: R5,6 million (2021-2023 detailed budget).

All our children deserve the chance to grow, to learn, and to thrive.

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