Monday, October 10, 2016

Investing in early childhood development essential to helping more children thrive

Public Release: 5-Oct-2016
Investing in early childhood development essential to helping more children thrive
249 million children under 5 are at risk of not reaching developmental potential, implementing low-cost interventions could reverse this trend
The Lancet

An estimated 43 percent--249 million--of children under five in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at an elevated risk of poor development due to extreme poverty and stunting, according to findings from The Lancet's new Series, Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale.

The Series reveals that early childhood development interventions that promote nurturing care--health, nutrition, responsive caregiving, security and safety, and early learning--may cost as little as 50 cents per child per year, when combined with existing services such as health. The World Health Organization, the World Bank, and UNICEF contributed to and offered guidance to the Series.

The findings in this Series underscore the importance of increased global commitment to early childhood development. Individuals are estimated to suffer a loss of about a quarter of average adult income per year, while countries may forfeit up to as much as two times their current GDP expenditures on health or education. Consequences of inaction impact not only present but future generations.


Research shows that a child's brain develops faster in the first 2-3 years than at any other time in life. These early years are also a critical period of adaptability and responsiveness to interventions. When young children are deprived of nutrition, stimulation, and protection, the damaging effects can produce long-term detriments for families and communities.

"The science and economics are clearly on the side of investing in the first 1,000 days of a child's life, starting with a woman's pregnancy," said Keith Hansen, Vice President, Human Development at the World Bank Group. "If we don't do this, children fall behind long before they set foot in school and suffer a lifetime of disadvantage. But if we do, we can make an irrevocable difference to their ability to fully participate in the economies of tomorrow as active, productive citizens. The Lancet research is further proof, if more is needed, of just how important this agenda is."


The authors propose several ways the global community can scale-up support for early childhood development services by:

Encouraging the adoption and implementation of policies to create supportive environments for families to provide nurturing care for young children.

Building capacity and strengthening coordination to promote early childhood development through existing health, nutrition, education, social, and child protection services.

Strengthening measurement and ensuring accountability for early childhood development services.

Increasing research, and fostering global and regional leadership and action.

Expanding political will and funding through advocacy for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"Investing in young children is a moral, economic, and social imperative. The SDGs have provided a promising vision on children and adolescents' health, but political will and increased investment in early childhood development are needed to ensure that the ambitious targets can be reached. Early childhood development will not only benefit the children of today, but will have a direct impact on the stability and prosperity of nations in the future," said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.

No comments:

Post a Comment