Health Care for ECD
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Thematic Area :
Health Systems For Early Child Development

Celebrating one year of transformative change: join the Health Systems for Early Child Development Initiative for an anniversary event

UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, WHO Regional Office for Europe and the International Step by Step Association are proud to celebrate the first anniversary of the Health Systems for Early Child Development initiative, launched on 6 December 2022.

In the first year, the initiative has served thousands of policy makers, health workers and health care service planners in Europe and Central Asia in their mission to provide young children and their families with quality care that looks beyond the traditional approach of focusing on the physical health of the child. There is untapped potential within health systems to change the lives of children. Given that health systems are influential and trusted structures which have regular contact with almost all young children and families, they are uniquely placed to empower caregivers to support their child’s holistic development with critical early childhood development focused support, to ensure that every young child thrives and can develop to his or her full potential.

Achievements in the first year

To fulfil the initiative’s mission of strengthening advocacy, learning and knowledge sharing to build early childhood development-oriented healthcare systems in Europe and Central Asia, the platform has been built as a one stop shop providing and disseminating curated contemporary evidence-based guidance and resources developed by experts. The offering consists of a multi-tiered platform which includes a Knowledge Hub, Learning Community, and Movement guided by experts and professionals to inform policy and practice and empower advocates to introduce a new perspective to health systems.

In the first year, the initiative has successfully built an international learning community, hosting nine webinars which brought together practitioners, policymakers, and advocates to support a shared understanding and facilitate learning and exchange about “developmentally-oriented” health systems across the region. The webinars have been attended by hundreds of engaged participants from the across Europe and Central Asia, as well as significant numbers of intercontinental participants. The overwhelming interest in these webinars has highlighted the need for more information on this new approach and the desire in Europe and Central Asia, as well as other regions, to connect and engage in shared learning across countries and sectors and exchange promising practices.

Another cornerstone of the initiative has been the curation of knowledge. Over the past year, the initiative has produced and disseminated nine blogs written by specialists that cover the five key thematic areas identified as crucial to supporting developmentally oriented health systems — namely Early Childhood Development; Supporting children with complex needs; Developmental monitoring; Home visiting; Facility-based healthcare. These expertly curated resources and blogs provide insights for key actors to improve policies and practices that promote early childhood development-oriented health systems by providing the knowledge, tools, and support needed to optimise the development of children. The Knowledge Hub houses more than 50 pieces of critical evidence-based guidance, resources, and expertise for practitioners in Europe and Central Asia.

Join our movement

The initiative partners are pleased to reflect on the successes of the last 12 months in facilitating and strengthening cross-country and cross-sectorial exchange and learning about developmentally oriented health in Europe and Central Asia. Join us on 6 December to hear from the partners and learn about our movement to enrich healthcare systems across the region. Watch the celebration video, here.

Image: ©UNICEF-Pancic

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