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A BABY’S FIRST 1 000 DAYS ALIVE
Motivators from the Early Learning Resource Unit in Langa, Cape Town, work to make sure babies thrive. Photo by Sammy Moretsi  ~ 

THE well-being of children is very important and partnerships need to be created to make sure that they get the best developmental care that is possible.

But too many children are dying from preventable diseases.

Statistics show that for every 1 000 births recorded in South Africa, 100 infants do not survive to their second birthday.

To give all South African children a fighting chance against illness and disease, Nedbank launched #VaxTheNation, an initiative in support of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

It will help by working with organisations such as the Early Learning Resource Unit (ELRU) that works with mums to save the lives of little babies in Cape Town places such as Langa.

Speaking to SunWellbeing, Mario Classen, the ELRU programme manager, said that they want to improve quality of health services offered to pregnant mothers and children from needy communities to make sure they achieve the best physical, emotional, social, intellectual and mental development.

At the recent Global Citizen Festival, Nedbank committed R5 million towards the vaccination of children. With its partners, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the bank wants all Mzansi children vaccinated against the preventable but devastating diseases out there.

The bank also visited various community outreach programmes run by The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Langa, Cape Town.

Claasen said: “By working with volunteers we call ‘family and community motivators’, we provide child caregiver support, early health and nutrition, opportunity to play and learn, and impact healthy happy adults.”

The motivators support each family or pregnant woman for the period of one year.

“The big challenge is that the first 1 000 days of a baby’s life are the most critical, once-in-a-life-time opportunity to positively influence a child’s brain development and encourage their future health, ability to learn and even their earning potential as working adults.”

He said another big success of their programme was the lessons it shares with people who work in other communities.

Claasen also said they are also operating family and community motivators in Northern Cape but want to expand to other parts of the country so that the babies of expectant women and new mums get the best benefits.

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