Investment in Human Development: Nutrition, Health and Economic Policies
Hunt, Joseph M., (2000) Investment in Human Development: Nutrition, Health and Economic Policies. Malaysian Journal of Nutrition, 6 (2). pp. 115-137. ISSN 1394-035X
Official URL: http://nutriweb.org.my/publications/mjn006/mjn6n2_art1.pdf
Asian Development Bank Manila
Investment in children is compelling for several reasons. First, children lie at the heart of international commitments to social justice. International forums, such as the International Conference on Population and Development, World Summit for Children, International Conference on Nutrition, Education for All Initiative, and Beijing Conference on Women, have a common theme: support for the economic and social rights for women and children lie at the heart of true development. Second, the International Development Goals are centered on raising the life prospects for poor women and children through nutrition, health, and education as human rights. The IDGs include the virtual elimination of infant, under-five child, and maternal mortality, of gender disparities in primary and secondary education, and fulfillment of universal primary school enrolment. These cannot be achieved without higher levels of investments in maternal nutrition, health and care, and in the comprehensive needs of young children. Cost-effective strategies to meet the IDGs do exist, and lie at the core of social protection programs for the most vulnerable women and children. A Global Conference or Investing in Young Children at the Carter Center (Atlanta) concluded in April 1996 that investment in early childhood is sound and linked to improved educability of children and ultimately to improved productivity of the labor force. Early childhood development (ECD) programs focus on the preschool years and integrate interventions in child health, nutrition, and early education (addressing both cognitive and psychosocial needs). The Conference concluded that there are five good reasons for investing in young children. (i) Well-developed children will be more productive and contributing citizens; (ii) Early childhood investments can reduce costs and improve the efficiency of primary and secondary schooling; (iii) Investments in ECD can modify inequalities rooted in poverty and social discrimination, including gender discrimination. Studies from diverse cultures show that girls who participate in early childhood programs are more likely to attend and continue in school; and (iv) Improvements designed to benefit children in terms of sanitation, health, nutrition, and education often benefit the whole community and allow mothers to pursue earning and education goals.
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