From the start of pregnancy to a child’s second birthday is roughly 1000 days. And the right nutrition and care during this time can have a life-long effect.
A child’s ability to learn, grow and thrive can be profoundly affected by the quality of the care and the nutrition it receives during these 1000 days. This is the time when the essential building blocks for brain development, healthy growth and the development of a strong immune system have to be provided.
One of the main reasons why high-quality early nutrition is so crucial, is that early malnutrition can cause irreversible damage to a child’s brain development and physical growth.
Poor school performance and a diminished capacity to learn not only affect a child’s own future, but also have an economic effect on the nation as a whole, because of poor productivity and later healthcare costs – especially in treating diseases that could have been prevented by proper nutrition. Nearly 170 million children worldwide have had the growth of their young bodies and brains stunted by malnutrition.
Although there is free healthcare for pregnant mothers and children under the age of six in South Africa, accessibility can sometimes be an obstacle especially to people living in rural areas.
That is where Ajuga, a Cipla initiative, aims to make a difference by helping to make early childhood development a top priority through ensuring that all children have at least two years of pre-school education, nutrition and healthcare.
Ajuga was established with the aim of providing fire-resistant structures to help communities. These structures are being used as créches in informal settlements, and can also be used for other care centres, depending on the needs of the community.
Good nutrition and healthcare during the first 1000 days of a baby’ life will help to provide solid building blocks for the future, enabling these children to learn well, and become valuable members of their societies – as well as becoming good parents themselves one day.
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