The project, a health literacy programme, was in reaction to increased concern about infection and infant mortality rates due to concern around water scarcity and restriction in the areas.
“These increased breastfeeding figures are credited to the national effort to support and promote exclusive breastfeeding as the best way to feed a baby, as well as to the resilience of Saldanha Bay’s mothers,” says Dr Coenie Louw, Executive Director of Gateway Health Institute. “As we begin World Breastfeeding Week, I want to point out how these results affirm the life-saving benefits of working together to engage and empower households to support mothers of young children,” says Dr Louw.
South African Civil Society for Women's Adolescent's and Children's Health (SACSoWACH) funded by the UN piloted Dare2Care to reach 732 people on a one-on-one basis in Saldanha Bay, 2450 via USSD and 100 000 through a Facebook Health literacy campaign in the West Coast.
The three-phased programme focused on health literacy and education regarding water hygiene and sanitation, breastfeeding, immunisation and the danger signs to look out for in sick children. This was achieved through incentivised community health assessments, push-messaging and a geo-targeted Facebook campaign.
“The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding have been widely documented, with research showing that breastfed children have at least six times greater chance of survival**,” says Dr Louw. “By educating new mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding and other best practices in raising a child, we are creating healthier and happier babies.”
“We could never have achieved these numbers without the collaboration and support from thousands of South Africans. By working together, we can achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3, of reducing preventable deaths of new-borns and children under 5 years of age,” concludes Dr Louw.
To get involved and alleviate the challenges faced in affected areas contact: https://www.facebook.com/Dare2CareSA/.