The recently released Lancet Early Childhood Development Series, “Advancing Early Childhood Development: From Science to Scale,” was developed by a steering committee of experts with strong interdisciplinary and global representation.
Professor Rafael Pérez-Escamilla of the Yale School of Public Health was one of the committee’s 14 members. The World Bank hosted the launch of the Series on Wednesday, October 5 at its annual summit for economic ministers from around the world. A staggering 250 million or 43 percent of children under 5 years of age are at risk of suboptimal development due to poverty and factors related to social injustice. The Series identifies advances in neuroscience clearly indicating that the first years of life are highly sensitive periods for proper brain development and that different skills get developed at different stages during the life course, including motor, language, cognitive, social and emotional skills.
[Professor Rafael Perez-Escamilla ]
Because new skills are acquired based on the foundations established by previous skills it is essential to promote optimal development starting in gestation and throughout childhood, including the period of adolescence.
The Series identifies a number of efficacious interventions across domains that are collectively needed to provide the nurturing environments needed to protect and promote the healthy growth and development of children, i.e. maternal-child nutrition, health care, parenting and child care, early education, and social protection. It also concludes that successful scaling up of ECD programs requires strong, evidence-based advocacy heavily involving civil society, political will, intersectoral coordination, and governance across sectors and, in addition to adequate investments for workforce development and program implementation, administration and evaluation.
Not investing enough in integrated early child health and development programs is costing the world billions of dollars every year in human suffering and lost productivity making the cost of inaction totally unacceptable.
The 2016 Lancet Early Childhood Development Series “Advancing Early Childhood Development: From Science to Scale” papers, commentaries, infographics and other materials can be found at www.thelancet.com/series/ECD2016.