FoodForward SA (FFSA), a registered non-profit organization, has launched the Mother and Child Nutrition Programme in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, to tackle the critical issue of malnutrition in young children. The initiative, in partnership with the Philani Nutrition Centre, focuses on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, a period crucial for physical and cognitive development.
The Malnutrition Crisis in South Africa
According to FFSA Managing Director Andy Du Plessis, over 27% of children under the age of five in South Africa experience stunted growth due to insufficient nutrition. Moreover, 33% of these children fail to achieve basic milestones in their development, leading to poor health, increased susceptibility to diseases, and reduced productivity in adulthood.
The Solution: The Mother and Child Nutrition Programme
The Mother and Child Nutrition Programme, in collaboration with the Philani Nutrition Centre, aims to identify vulnerable households and provide nutritious food parcels to families lacking in food security and those suffering from malnutrition. The program has commenced operations in the Western Cape, enlisting 230 mentor mothers who cover five community clinics in regions such as Crossroads, Philippi/Browns Farm, Khayelitsha Site B and Site C, and Mitchells Plain.
The Role of Mentor Mothers
Mentor mothers play a vital role in detecting early signs of malnutrition and food scarcity in households with mothers and children under the age of five through door-to-door visits. Once identified, families receive ongoing support and monitoring, with the goal of exiting the program after assessment by a social worker or dietitian.
Expanding the Reach
The initiative is set to extend its reach to the Eastern Cape, involving a total of 52 mentor mothers in community clinics in Zithulele and Coffee Bay. Dr. Ingrid Le Roux, Medical Director of the Philani Maternal, Child Health, and Nutrition Project, expressed her enthusiasm for the partnership with FFSA and the food parcels provided for their clients and patients.
The Mother and Child Nutrition Programme aims to achieve early identification of at-risk mothers and children, a reduction in child malnutrition cases, nutrition education, and improved household food security. Pediatric cardiologist Prof. Liesl Zühlke emphasizes the importance of supporting mothers and children during these vulnerable times, stating that providing a healthy diet is a crucial step towards ensuring the best possible life for these at-risk individuals.
The Mother and Child Nutrition Programme launched by FoodForward SA represents a vital step in the fight against child malnutrition and its long-lasting effects on society. By identifying at-risk households and providing nutritious food parcels, ongoing support, and nutrition education, the program hopes to reduce the prevalence of child malnutrition and improve overall household food security. Through the diligent work of mentor mothers and the collaboration between FFSA and the Philani Nutrition Centre, this initiative aims to address the malnutrition crisis in South Africa head-on.