Johannesburg, 13 March 2019: The MACAH Foundation, together with the University of the Free State, announced the commencement of their awareness campaign called “Make the first 1000 days Count” initiative today. This is in line with their key strategic priorities for 2019 in highlighting the wellbeing of mothers and babies in Central South Africa.

The first 1000 days of a child’s life is defined as the period from conception up to the second birthday. This period of 1000 days is recognised as a critical window of opportunity to secure optimal development of children. The MACAH Foundation, in partnership with the UFS, is placing a dedicated focus on their awareness programme through the promotion of the importance of this concept because of its consequences on child and maternal health.

“We need to ensure our children not only grow and be well, but that they grow well from the time they are conceived. Providing optimal neonatal and maternal healthcare allows mothers and babies to thrive beyond challenging circumstances. The best opportunity we can provide lies within “Make the first 1000 days Count” initiative,” says Professor André Venter, Head: Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of the Free State.

International and local research indicates there is a growing need for the awareness of childhood development in a child’s formative years before they reach two years of age. Fortifying a child’s development experience a lot earlier, lays the foundation for their ability to progress effectively in their growth, development, and education.

Our children have the chance to build a productive society, but to do so, they need to be well equipped mentally, physically, and emotionally on how to manage life. Investing in nurturing a child during their first 1000 days provides for the construction of sturdy brain architecture, a broad range of abilities and learning capacities. It is during this phase a child’s brain forms as many as 1000 neural connections every second, a once-in-a-lifetime pace that will never be repeated during their lives ever again.

“Maternal health has a direct and long-term impact on infant health. The first 1000 days of a child’s growth is the period that holds the maximum developmental influence on the course of a child’s life. Collaborating with government and private organisations for this awareness campaign is critical in giving mothers and children a first class pass to life,” concludes Venter.

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