Stakeholders have converged at a meeting in Accra, to outline priorities, strategies and actions for the implementation of the Nurturing Care Framework (NCF) for Early Childhood Development (ECD).
Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in his welcome address, said the Framework which was developed by the WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank and other partners, built on the foundation of Universal Health Coverage, with primary care as an essential strategy ensuring sustainable growth and development.
It paid attention to the need for the child to receive nurturing care and for caregivers to provide the required services with a particular focus on the first 1,000 days of life starting from conception, where there was brain formation and essential growth in the body.
He underscored the importance of good nutrition and care in the brain and body development of babies and children, saying optimal nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood was essential for the well-being of the mother and the baby and that those living in poverty lacked these, and must be given the needed attention to address any inter-generational gaps.
Dr Nsaih-Asare said the Framework called for mutually accountable partnerships between relevant sectors related to health, nutrition, education, social welfare, child protection and environmental health, and encouraged common action, while promoting common results through leadership.
He said the GHS would continue to strengthen its role in promoting the health and wellbeing of children, focusing on strategies that fostered family and community participation in the activities, and explore and strengthen key interventions for pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, delivery and early infancy and childhood periods to accommodate the emerging issues of nurturing care for early childhood development.
The GHS would also continue to scale up services and monitor its progress, using data to inform planning and decision making as well as design innovative interventions to promote the health and development of children.
He encouraged all stakeholders to embrace the implementing issues under the NCF and commit to supporting the plans that would eventually be developed, and remember to include; governance and accountability system to monitor the implementation.