Date: 23-05-2018

NEWS - Nurturing Care Framework launched at World Health Assembly

Geneva, May 23, 2018 - Investing in early childhood development (ECD) is one of the best investments a country can make to boost economic growth, promote peaceful and sustainable societies, and eliminate inequality. To develop to their full potential, children need nurturing care – the conditions that promote health, nutrition, security and safety, responsive caregiving and opportunities for early learning.This is why  the Early Child Development Action Network, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, UNICEF, the World Bank and the World Health Organization have launched a Nurturing Care Framework for Early Childhood Development at the 71st World Health Assembly today.

'The period from pregnancy to age 3 is key for a child’s development. That’s when the  brain grows fastest,' said WHO Director-General Dr. Ghebreyesus. 'And that’s why young children need a safe, secure and loving environment, with the right nutrition and stimulation from their parents or caregivers.' The Framework provides an evidence-based roadmap for action, it outlines how policies and services can support parents, families, other caregivers in providing nurturing care for young children. It calls for effective national programmes that are driven by strong and sustained political commitment and a determination to reduce inequity, poverty and social injustice, drawing on best practices from across high-, middle- and low-income countries.

Role health sector
'Poverty, malnutrition, insecurity, gender inequities, violence, environmental toxins and caregivers’ poor mental health are among the major risk factors for suboptimal child development,” said Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF. 'If one looks at the risk factors of poverty and stunting alone, more than 40% of children in low- and middle-income countries – almost 250 million children – are at risk of not attaining their full development potential.' The Framework highlights that in a child’s earliest years, the health sector has an important role and opportunity because of its close contact with young children and their families, but it also encourages countries to embrace a whole-of-government approach -  including education, child protection and social protection.

The framework comes at a time when countries are boosting their efforts to meet their Sustainable Development Goals, which includes several targets related to early childhood development. Enthused about the possibilities this framework holds, Annette Dixon, VP of the World Bank Group said, 'Investing in early child development makes financial sense too. Estimates suggest that every dollar spent on these interventions leads to $13 as returns. On the other hand, the cost of inaction is high and the lack of investment in early childhood development, and addressing the long-term consequences, are estimated to cost countries more than what they spend today on health.'

Growing movement
The launch of the Framework is part of a growing movement and alignment of many partners from across different sectors. Dr. Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and Board Chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health paid tribute to this collaboration, noting that 'Over 1000 individuals from 111 countries have contributed to crafting the framework that recognizes that nurturing care not only promotes physical, emotional, social and cognitive development, it also protects young children from the worst effects of adversity. It produces lifelong and intergenerational benefits for health, productivity and social cohesion' Following the launch of the Nurturing Care Framework, on the margins of  the World Health Assembly, countries will take the lead in working towards national milestones to 2023, supported by UNICEF, the World Bank, and WHO, alongside partners from all sectors.

You can find all Resource Modules for Home Visitors: Supporting Families for Nurturing Care from UNICEF ECARO and ISSA featured in the resource section of the Nurturing Care website.