1000 Day Journey is a new development program, known as the ENRICH grant, led by World Vision, implemented together with expert organizations, monitored by academics and funded by the Government of Canada. The program launched in 2016 and will run for six years in Bangladesh, Kenya, Myanmar and Tanzania.
Across the four countries, World Vision is working to ensure mothers and their children get proper nutrition in the first 1000 days of their lives, from conception to their second birthday. Although these four countries contain just 6.8 per cent of the world’s population, they are home to 13 per cent of the world’s children under age 5 who suffer from stunting, caused by lack of nutrition.
The overall goal of this program is to reduce deaths of mothers and children in the targeted regions of the four countries. Most deaths in the critical first 1,000 days could be prevented through relatively simple and cost effective solutions like regular pre-natal check-ups, clean birthing kits, exclusive breast feeding, monitoring baby’s growth, and immunization. Below, we’ve listed the three main focus areas with some of the activities you will see in the program.
1. Improved delivery of gender-sensitive health services
• Build local health workers technical knowledge and skills
• Increase local health facilities’ capacity to deliver essential health services
• Train workers on gathering and analyzing critical data to improve services
2. Increased consumption of nutritious foods and micronutrients by mothers and young children
• Educate on nutrition and dietary diversification
• Support home gardens and bio-fortified crops
• Distribute micronutrient powders to children under five
3. More gender-sensitive health policies and governance
• Facilitate dialogue among men and women on equity in health decisions
• Increase understanding of women and children’s health issues in the five countries and in Canada
In a 2013 series, the highly respected health journal, The Lancet, called maternal and child nutrition “a massive, unfinished agenda.” We know how to address nutrition in a child’s first days in low cost and effective ways. Yet too many children remain unreached – with serious consequences.
Currently, some 165 million children with stunted growth (as a result of poor nutrition in the first 1000 days) must go through life with permanently compromised cognitive and physical development. And then there are the 3 million children who die before their fifth birthday due to undernutrition each year. Babies have the best chance of surviving and thriving with healthy moms. The impact of poor nutrition early in life is cyclical, as poor and undernourished mothers give birth to underweight children or struggle to provide nutritious food for their families. The Lancet noted yet broader implications as countries “are not able to break out of poverty and sustain economic advances without ensuring that their populations are adequately nourished.”
Canada has played a global leadership role in women and children’s health: committing significant funds, hosting major conferences and encouraging other countries to pledge. Yet few Canadians know this.
Canada’s aid program had been supporting women and children for years, but it became a focal point in 2010, when Canada used a G8 summit to launch the Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn and child health. Since then the focus has continued and evolved.
World Vision is the lead agency partnering with Nutrition International and implementing the project with other expert organizations with the University of Toronto as the independent evaluator. Principle program funding provided by the Government of Canada.