Part 2 – The Call to Action

Calling Health and Social Care Professionals

There is now a powerful and solid scientific, social and economic case for Early Childhood Development and Care, and for supporting mothers, as well as fathers and other caregivers, in their nurturing role during pregnancy and the early years of their child. We invite you to join with other like-minded professionals, dedicated to improving the lives of mothers and young children in the world. Your expertise and experience will help us spread the word, and by expanding the CEPPs Network, promote the sharing of knowledge and best practice. Contact CEPPs today.

Powerful Messages for Leaders and Policy Makers

Two landmark publications during 2016 provide the scientific, social and economic rationale for CEPPs and provide a clear ‘Call to Action’.

The Lancet

The 2016 Lancet Early Childhood Development Series was compiled by 43 prominent authors and 29 additional experts. These reports highlight early childhood development at a time when it has been universally endorsed in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

‘The burden and cost of inaction (in the area of maternal physical and mental health during pregnancy, and early childhood care) is high. A staggering 43% of children under five years of age—an estimated 250 million—living in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of suboptimal development due to poverty and stunting. The burden is currently underestimated because risks to health and wellbeing go beyond these two factors.

A poor start in life can lead to poor health, nutrition, and inadequate learning, resulting in low adult earnings as well as social tensions. Negative consequences impact not only present but also future generations. Because of this poor start, affected individuals are estimated to suffer a loss of about a quarter of average adult income per year while countries may forfeit up to twice their current GDP expenditures on health and education.

The most formative experiences of young children come from nurturing care received from parents, other family members, caregivers, and community-based services. Nurturing Care is characterised by a stable environment that promotes children’s health and nutrition, protects children from threats, and gives them opportunities for early learning, through affectionate interactions and relationships. Benefits of such care are life-long, and include improved health, wellbeing, and ability to learn and earn.

The time to act is now. The global community came together under the MDGs to improve child survival by more than 50%. Through the SDGs, we now must ensure that children not only survive, but thrive.

Building on existing structures and expanding maternal and child health services to include interventions that promote nurturing care is a cost-effective way to reduce the effects of adversities on young children. For example, for an estimated average of 50 cents per person per year, we could deliver two critical early childhood development interventions—enhancing nurturing care of children and supporting maternal depression—through existing health and nutrition services.

Source: Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale, The Lancet, October 2016

UN Every Woman Every Child

The UN Every Woman Every Child Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030) came into effect alongside the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in January 2016. It sets out the following vision:

‘By 2030, a world in which every woman, child and adolescent in every setting realizes their rights to physical and mental health and well-being, has social and economic opportunities, and is able to participate fully in shaping prosperous and sustainable societies.

Implementing the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, with increased and sustained financing, would yield tremendous returns by 2030:

  • An end to preventable maternal, newborn, child and adolescent deaths and stillbirths
  • At least a 10-fold return on investments through better educational attainments, workforce participation and social contributions
  • At least US$100 billion in demographic dividends from investments in early childhood and adolescent health and development
  • A “grand convergence” in health, giving all women, children and adolescents an equal chance to survive and thrive

The survival, health and well-being of women, children and adolescents are essential to ending extreme poverty, promoting development and resilience, and achieving the SDGs.

The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030) aims to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by guiding transformative change.

It is put into action by the Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) movement, which supports country-led implementation through aligned multi-stakeholder commitments, technical support, financing and a Unified Accountability Framework. The EWEC Global Strategy targets are fully aligned with the SDGs along three axes:

  1. Survive (end preventable deaths);
  2. Thrive (ensure health and well-being); and
  3. Transform (expand enabling environments).’

Source: UN Every Woman Every Child, Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030).

The Call to Action

‘The extensive benefits of nurturing care during the first years of a child’s life are proven, and opportunities exist to reach young children and their families during pregnancy and the first years of a child’s life, through health, nutrition, education, and social and child protection services.

Collaboration across all sectors is vital to the long-term sustainability and success of high-quality early childhood development services. Bridges must be built between health and nutrition, education, and social and child protection, among others, to address the multiple needs of young children, especially the most vulnerable.

Investing in young children is a moral, economic, and social imperative. The SDGs have set the targets, and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and other, related strategies, provide the roadmap towards their attainment.

What we now need is political will and investments—by governments, development partners, academia, civil society, and all those who are concerned with the health and well-being of children, communities, and societies. Remember—early childhood development will not only benefit children of today but will have a direct impact on the stability and prosperity of nations in the future.’ The Lancet, October 2016

The role of CEPPs Networks

CEPPs is building local collaborative networks of professionals and organisations working in the field of  health, social and early childhood care. These networks provide the framework for the collaboration and the building of bridges mentioned above. In each country they will provide the platform for consultation with government, and the contact points for engaging with WHO, UNICEF and other top-down initiatives. Joining a CEPPs Network in your city or local area will help build the grassroots support for bottom-up engagement to accelerate the implementation of these life-saving initiatives. Consult the CEPPs Directory of Partners and Supporters to find a CEPPs Network in your area. If you can’t find one, you may wish to create one. We will help!

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