The International Society of Social Pediatrics and Child Health (ISSOP) 2018 Annual Congress was held in the historic city of Bonn, Germany. The meeting’s focus was on Early Childhood Development (ECD) including early intervention, child rights, advocacy and critical services for vulnerable children such as those with disability, chronic conditions and migrant children.  The meeting, attended by professionals

Expert speakers at the meeting explained the importance of the Nurturing Care Framework (WHO, UNICEF, World Bank 2018) in early childhood development.  A multisector approach is a key factor for this framework. Interventions should start ‘early’ (from pregnancy to the age of 3). The Nurturing Care Framework also draws attention to preconception health particularly in communities where women are vulnerable. Interventions for family planning, birth spacing, early learning and stimulation are all critical. Starting early helps to mitigate developmental risk factors and ensure protective factors for development. The earlier we start, the more we can achieve to mitigate inequalities. Responsive caregiving is a necessary part of well-baby visits.

Another important highlight from the meeting is that we should not focus on the child alone; we also need to concentrate on the resources and well-being of parents or caregivers. In order to promote caregivers competency, maternal postnatal depression screening and management is necessary.  We also heard that multiple risk factors might cause developmental delays. If we tackle these multiple risk factors together, we will be more successful. For example, nutrition is very important for healthy child development. On the other hand, if we use a nutritional approach alone, we will not be successful. If we combine nutrition and stimulation, we will see an amplified effect. The health worker can integrate both related messages to boost child development in the life course.

Experts in advocacy, message framing and funding for early childhood development provided further insight into the multilevel approach needed to ensure optimal development for children across the globe.

This meeting was a successful first step in ongoing discussions to promote the rights, health, development and well-being of all children.   A ‘Bonn Declaration’ is being prepared to underline ISSOP’s role in taking these messages out as has been done with the Budapest declaration.

Gonca Yilmaz and Rita Nathawad