1. “make the 1st 1000 days count”
The first 1000 days of life – from conception to age two – is a critical period during which children’s brains can form as many as 1000 neural connections every second, a once-in-a-lifetime pace that will never be repeated during their lifetime. What is key is that these connections are the building blocks of every child’s future. Yet, in conditions of poverty and attendant malnutrition, this foundation is significantly weakened, resulting in, among other things, irreversible damage to children’s brain development, poor growth and compromised immunity.
What happens to our children who have been denied these critical advantages in their earliest days?
• When our children miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it will be perpetuating the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage and inequality; year-on-year, decade-on-decade!
• The first 1000 days are a vital window of opportunity to shape healthier and more prosperous futures for our South African children.
Therefore, this initiative is explicitly aimed at raising awareness and improving knowledge about the first 1000 days of a child’s life. A national awareness-raising project to be celebrated on the 1st day of November, now and into the future! This campaign includes a directive approach that will empower our communities and our stakeholders with the knowledge of all critical aspects around the first 1000 days. Awareness raising initiatives will run throughout November to inform, to highlight and to educate the nation about this crucial imperative.
We are committed to taking the first steps to chart a better future for the babies and mothers in central South Africa. Aggressive emphasis on impactful initiatives to reduce maternal and neonatal incidence risk will help reduce the risk of biological vulnerabilities among newborns. This project would make cutting edge equipment and medical advances accessible to the broader neonatal population. Another goal is to train highly skilled health care professionals, technologists and researchers. This CONTRIBUTES to SDG 3.8, which speaks to achieving universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality, essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicine for all.
When you are committed to the idea that the first 1000 days of life matter, you cannot ignore a developmental condition with a prevalence of almost two percent. Early identification of and intervention in children with an autism spectrum disorder has proven positive effects and enables them to reach their optimal capabilities.
For this reason, we opened an autism support unit at UNIBS and Universitas Hospital, where training, evaluations and interventions take place. At the centre, we arranged training in the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale (ADOS), the gold standard instrument for the autism diagnosis.
The unit is now used for ADOS evaluations by different professionals. This was followed by the first training in Africa for trainers in the Early Start Denver intervention model for autism. The training was a collaboration with prof Lauren Franz of Duke University, North Carolina. The unit has been a hub for national and international cooperation, specifically with the WHO nurturing care initiative and research projects done in collaboration with Prof Petrus de Vries’s laboratory and the centre for autism research in Africa at UCT the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
The focus on autism at UNIBS (Unit for training in the behavioural sciences) has enabled a developmental paediatrician, Dr D.J. Griessel, to be selected as a senior country representative for autism at the International Society for Autism Research. Dr Griessel has been involved in one D Psych, and three M Psych studies in which families living with autism were the focus of research. Two MMed studies were also completed describing early developmental profiles in autism and the knowledge of paediatric health care professionals in the identification and management of autism spectrum disorders.
The work at the unit has led to two publications in the past two years in international and national journals, one chapter in the textbook Child Health for All and a presentation at the 2021 SA Association for adolescent and child psychiatry conference.
We dream that the unit can develop as a focal point for service and research at the University of the Free State, which will fit in with the First 1000 days project and enable scholars and students to be involved in community engagement, knowledge production, teaching and discovery.
2. The Free State Mother and Child Academic Hospital (FS MACAH)
This project's ultimate purpose is to establish a freestanding, independent Mother and Child Academic hospital, which will serve the entire maternal, infant and child population of Central South Africa at both tertiary and quaternary levels.
This hospital will:
• Offer a centre of excellence to generate opportunities for specialist and super-specialist training.
• Provide a research unit with a strong community commitment.
• Offer a 250-bed mother and child hospital, which will significantly benefit the community of the Free State, Northern Cape, Lesotho and some adjacent provinces.
• Support the objectives of the Strategic Development Goals.
• Advance the Free State Strategic transformation plan (STP) by improving access to healthcare.
• Consequently, reducing paediatric mortality and improving maternal health.
This Hospital will be unique, as it will be the first Mother and Child Academic Hospital in South Africa. The way in which the model will be conceptualised may serve as a blueprint for other academic hospitals in the country.
Current Status: Land
The University of the Free State has allocated a piece of land. This allocated land is close to the Faculty of Health Sciences on the UFS campus. The unit will perform as an extension of the current academic platform at the Universitas Tertiary Academic hospital.
3. Children's Wing Project
The fundamental goal is to improve the immediate environment in which medical expert specialists and subspecialists develop their skills,
which will enhance successful diagnoses and treatments of implied patients.
The following projects are active:
o Garden project
o MLU Project
The immediate moments or days after the stillbirth of a baby is often described as a “blur” by the mother. It can leave her with a feeling of shock, numbness and disassociation. For these mothers to successfully work through the grieving process, they’ll need the memory of their deceased child to be immortalised. A memory box with several items can provide this.
On World Prematurity Day, organisations and individuals from more than 100 countries work to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide.
Worldwide, one baby in 10 babies is born preterm. Preterm birth is the leading cause of child deaths under five years. This day is one of the most important days in the year to raise awareness of the challenges and burden of preterm birth globally
On 14 June 2018, we launched our project on a baby that weighed 680g.
An absolute miracle.
Our dream is to provide comfort and support to premature infants admitted to Pelonomi and Universitas NICU and other hospitals in the country by providing each infant with their own pair of knitted socks and beanies. This will be given to them as soon as they arrive in the NICU and will be taken home when they are discharged. .
Who are we?
The Beanies4Babies was created by a group of medical students from the UFS. The tiny miracles who come through these doors of the NICU inspired us to reach out and make a difference.
Our dream is to provide comfort and support to premature infants admitted to Pelonomi and Universitas NICU by providing each infant with his/her own pair of knitted socks and beanies. This will be given to them as soon as they arrive in the NICU and will be taken home with them when they are discharged.
Premature babies should be kept warm because when cold they use their energy to generate heat. Energy should be used to grow and to get strong. A premature baby’s head is a major area of heat loss and should be covered in a Beanie.
Macah Foundation NPC
branch code: 198-765
Account no: 114-270-2030
Reference: B4BDonorInitialSurname (e.g. B4BJSmith)
Did you know that some babies born at local hospitals go home every month without any covering, clothing or basic toiletries?
Paula Mey started the Bags4Babies initiative as part of a community-engaging project in 2018 in the Bloemfontein and surrounding areas. Each year several bags are delivered to public hospitals in the area for those mothers and babies in need. The bags contain necessities for the newborn baby and items for the new mother.
These bags are packed with love and special care.
10 x Disposable nappies (2-4kg)
1 x Baby wipes (50p pack)
1 x Babygrow (Newborn)
1 x Babygrow (3mth)
1 x Pair Knitted Booties
1 x Knitted Beanie
1 x Knitted Jersey
2 x Vests (New born)
1 x Baby Vaseline (100ml)
1 x Baby Aqueous Cream (250ml)
1 x Baby Soap (100g)
1 x Baby Facecloth
1 x Baby Blanket
1 x Body Lotion (400ml)
10 x Disposable Pads
1 x Facecloth
1 x Soap (100g+)
1 x KMC Wrap
5. St Andrew’s Care Project
Some children with chronic illnesses can stay in hospital for weeks…
The St Andrew’s School for Boys in Bloemfontein has been the custodian for this project for the last 15 years. Several fundraising initiatives have generated more than 10 000 teddy bears and soft toys. These toys offer comfort to very sick children in our hospitals. More than 5 000 baby blankets were donated and were handed over to premature babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the Mangaung area.
One of the school's aims is to strengthen the character of the young gentlemen, and in pursuance of this, they are all encouraged to serve the community. They always engage in this project with eagerness, pride and integrity.
6. MACAH Art Project
Some children with chronic illnesses can stay in hospital for weeks…
Several artists from all over South Africa have donated artworks as part of a fundraising initiative to the MACAH Foundation. These artworks were sold on designated auctions, fundraising events and online.
The ‘Make the first 1000 days count’ Message Card project has been based on the beautiful creation of a human being from conception to two years. See attached the list with contact details of the very creative artists involved in our project over the years.