FIRST LADY, DR TSHEPO MOTSEPE SUPPORTS INITIATIVES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
In October 2018, Grow Great launched a campaign to reduce stunting in South Africa to ZERO by 2030. South Africa’s First Lady, Dr Tshepo Motsepe (Ramaphosa) was the Key Note Speaker at a well-attended event at First National Bank Head Office in Sandton, Johannesburg.

So what is stunting I hear you say? Stunting is defined as a young child’s short height for age as compared to standardised growth charts, such as those found in the Department of Health’s ‘Road to Health’ booklet, given to babies at birth in state health facilities. And why is it an important measure? Stunting is a condition caused by prolonged under-nutrition and it damages both physical AND brain development, especially in the first thousand days of life – from the moment of conception until the child turns two. In fact stunting is such an important measure of damage to brain development, that stunting at age 2 is the single best predictor of whether or not a person will achieve their academic and economic potential as an adult!

Why should we be concerned about stunting in our country? South Africa has very high rates of stunting – much higher than other comparable countries and even some of our neighbours. 27% or at least 1 in 4 of our children under 5 are stunted! On average, stunted children do poorly at school; are unlikely to get to matric or attend tertiary education and are more likely to join the ranks of the unemployed and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. They are also at higher risk of getting diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

And this is so unjust because stunting is entirely preventable. The First 1000 Days is a critical period of growth and development, especially brain development. Pregnant women and babies need enough, good nutritious food. For babies this means ONLY breastmilk for the first 6 months of life, and then the introduction of nutritious solid food including eggs. They also need high quality healthcare, responsive love and care, and a safe and healthy environment to flourish and GROW GREAT.

The Grow Great campaign has launched some exciting strategies to mobilise health care workers, pregnant mums, families and communities to work towards Zero Stunting. The ‘Leave No Young Child Behind’ initiative in Nkomazi Wards 16 and 19 is proud to be one of the pilot sites.

Working hand-in-hand and with the support of the Mpumalanga Department of Health, more than 100 Community Health Workers have chosen to become Champions for Children. They have received additional training and resources to focus on growth monitoring of young children and support pregnant mums and parents on nutrition, healthcare, love and support for young children. In addition, selected participants have become franchisees of the Flourish Social Franchise. They will facilitate ante-natal classes for pregnant mums and post-natal classes for mums and babies.

If you want to know more, visit the Grow Great website – www.growgreat.co.za

LOVE, PLAY TALK
Learn more about what you can do to change your child’s future by listening weekly to LOVE, PLAY TALK, the radio programme on Nkomazi FM aired EVERY Thursday from 11 to 11.30am and brought to you by Ilifa Labantwana and RCL FOODS. Each week Nkomazi FM hosts a guest speaker to deal with a different topic to support you, the parent of a young child, give your child the best start in life. The LOVE, PLAY, TALK radio programme is part of the RCL FOODS sponsored LEAVE NO YOUNG CHILD BEHIND early childhood development initiative in Nkomazi Wards 16 and 19 that aims to ensure every young child in these wards has access to improved quality of essential services so that they get the very best start in life. And you, the parent, have a critically important role to play!

Get more information from the Nkomazi FM website www.nkomazifm.co.za or the Ilifa Labantwana website www.ilifalabantwana.co.za. Do listen every week and give your little one the best start in life!

PAM PICKEN
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST

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