*Salma and her husband fled to Malaysia with hope for a better future, but was met with a harsh reality. Ordinary tasks like applying for a job or going grocery shopping becomes a gamble once you receive a refugee status. Questions like “Will I be able to get home safely? What if I get detained?” are constantly in their thoughts. On top of the lack of safety and job security, affordable and effective healthcare is often not accessible to the underserved communities. When *Salma found out she was pregnant, she was desperate for treatment and found our community clinic, Klinik Kecheerian.
In a needs assessment conducted through our clinic, the main reason for delayed antenatal visitation is financial burden. With the lack of job security and low incomes, expectant mothers would only come for a check-up in the middle of their second trimester. However, the baby's most critical development is within the first three months of pregnancy. By the time these mothers come for their first appointment, it would have been too late to provide them with the needed supplement that aids in the baby’s neurodevelopment.
According to UNICEF, the first 1,000 days of life, which includes conception up to the age of two years old, presents a golden opportunity for a child to build strong and lasting health foundations. This affects the child’s growth, neurodevelopment, and determines the future health of the child. Proper nutrition is a key factor in developing strong and healthy babies.
With the lack of resources and knowledge, the refugee community would not be able to fully maximise this golden period. Thus, we want to be the bridge for this societal gap. The First 1,000 Days Initiative provides refugee mothers and their babies an equal start to life by giving free antenatal treatment and treatment, baby vaccinations, and nutritional food packs.
*Name(s) have been changed to protect the identity of the individual.