Care for Child Development: Improving the care of young children (UNICEF and WHO)

“We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.”   Frederick D. Roosevelt

Photo Credit: UNICEF, WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Emergency Children’s Fund (UNICEF), together with a wide range of partners, have recently developed a package material entitled Care for Child Development to support families in promoting the development of young children through health services, health workers, community providers and others working with families and young children. (UNICEF, WHO, 2012). According to the (WHO, UNICEF), “ 7.6 million children under the age of 5 worldwide die each year, and more than 25 times that number –  over 200 million children survive, but do not reach full human potential.”  Poor nutrition and fewer opportunities to learn are the main reasons for children not reaching their full human potential especially among families living in poverty. The Care for Child Development (CCD) package among others contains: participant manual, counseling cards, facilitator notes, guide for clinical practice, framework for monitoring and evaluation, a poster recommendation for CCD,  a CD-Rom with technical, advocacy and training resources, and CCD guide for monitoring and evaluation course materials.

Looking at the summary of the Pakistan Early Child Development Scale-up (PEDS) Trial report produced by Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan and the UNICEF helps understand the significance of  providing care for child development in order to optimize outcomes for young children and to maximize their  their full potential. The PEDS Trial Care for Child Development was implemented in partnership with the Lady Health Worker Programme. The PEDS Trial tested the effects on child development and growth of two intervention packages : Care for Child Development (CCD) and Enhanced Nutrition (EN) along with a third package that combined both the CCD and EN.

To learn more about scales of measurements, intervention types, sampling and location of the study, click here.

Summary of Outcomes of the study shows the following:

– At 12 months old, children in all three interventions groups had significantly greater cognitive, language motor and social-emotional development scores.

– The combined intervention group obtained significantly better cognitive and language development scores than either group delivering the CCD alone or the EN alone.

– At 24 months old, children in all three intervention groups had significantly greater cognitive, language and motor development than those in the control group, but there were no significant differences between groups in social-emotional development.

– The CCD group and the combined CCD and EN group had significantly better cognitive scores compared to the EN group alone , and the CCD group had significantly better language scores compared to the EN group alone

Summary of the Intervention:

– The combined Care for Child Development and Enhance Nutrition Intervention proved to be effective in the greatest range of outcomes.

– The combined intervention was effective at improving children’s development and improving early linear growth of young children.

– The combined intervention had also resulted lower maternal distress , benefited home environment and the quality of mother-child interaction as compared to the NE only, the CCD only and control group (those who received baseline Lady Health Worker Service).

To read more about the outcomes and the interventions, click here

The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Volume 1308 has a detailed information on integrating nutrition and early childhood development, and the volume (1308) is dedicated to integrated interventions representing six areas: review of integrated interventions; methods and topics in designing integrated interventions; economic considerations related to integrated interventions; capacity-building considerations; examples of integrated interventions; and policy implications of integrated interventions.

To access the free online version of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Volume 1308, click here.

Sources: WHO, UNICEF, THE and The Aga Khan University