Strengthening primary health care to support optimal development of young children

May 17, 2023   |   Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Results for Development today announced the launch of a new initiative, in collaboration with the governments of Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania and with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, aimed at strengthening primary health care (PHC) systems to promote optimal development of young children.

There is an urgent need to improve the quality and availability of early childhood development (ECD) services globally. Early childhood development has been disrupted by the pandemic, and there remains a concerning lack of prioritization of resources to ECD. One way of improving the quality and equity of ECD services is to leverage the primary health care system to deliver responsive caregiving and other services. Young children and caregivers have myriad touchpoints with the health system during the first 1,000 days of life. Using these moments to promote responsive caregiving and other critical ECD services can alter their development trajectories.

However, there are several sometimes-overlapping factors that constrain efforts to leverage primary health care, including: an already overburdened health workforce; limited awareness of ECD, its importance and how to promote it; a lack of training for health workers; and multi-sectoral coordination by government agencies. Even where some enabling factors are in place, there isn’t a clear understanding of how to plan for and operationalize the strengthening of primary health to promote optimal development of young children.

“This is an exciting and important opportunity to build on the growing momentum around primary health care and longstanding interest in promoting early childhood development through the health sector,” said Vidya Putcha, associate director at R4D.

There will be two phases to this work. First, with guidance from a global advisory group R4D will work to develop a global resource for strengthening PHC to promote optimal development of young children. Drawing on case studies from a range of contexts, the resource will provide actionable guidance on how to support national and sub-national planning for strengthening PHC to promote ECD outcomes. R4D will then collaborate with local change agents in Kenya (at both the national and sub-national levels), Mozambique and Tanzania to reflect on relevant recommendations from the global resource in planning efforts. R4D will then use country experience to further improve and iterate on the global resource.

To ensure that this work draws on past experience and lessons, R4D will convene a global advisory group of experts involved in early childhood and health system strengthening efforts, including government partners, national and sub-national NGO representatives (drawing in particular from representatives from the countries where the resource will be piloted), international partners, and researchers.


About Results for Development
Results for Development (R4D) is a leading non-profit global development partner. We collaborate with change agents — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — supporting them as they navigate complex change processes to achieve large-scale, equitable outcomes in health, education and nutrition. We work with country leaders to diagnose challenges, co-create, innovate and implement solutions built on evidence and diverse stakeholder input, and engage in learning to adapt, iterate and improve. We also strengthen global, regional and country ecosystems to support country leaders with expertise, evidence, and innovations. R4D helps country leaders solve their immediate challenges today, while also strengthening systems and institutions to address tomorrow’s challenges. And we share what we learn so others around the world can achieve results for development too.

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