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Integrated Approach To Early Childhood Important For Social Policy, Long-Term Economic Policy

Writing in the Huffington Post U.K.’s “Politics” blog, Dame Tessa Jowell, a former Cabinet minister, and Member of Parliament Ivan Lewis write about a recent trip to Malawi, where they toured projects supported by the non-governmental organization Sightsavers. “Support for children in their early months and years in Malawi is scarcely funded,” they write, adding “more training, more staffing and more infrastructure would make a big difference, not only to maternal health and early childhood care but to the health and education systems as a whole.” Despite these challenges, however, “[g]overnment officials we met agreed on the vital importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life and recognized the potential demographic dividend and long-term economic benefit to investing in the earliest years,” the authors state. But “more work needs to be done to address the remaining gap between the national level policy and rhetoric and reality of implementation at community level,” they write, noting, “We saw some remarkably innovative and exciting work from Sightsavers, working with disabled and visually impaired children to ensure they get the best start in life against the odds.” Jowell and Lewis conclude, “An integrated approach to early childhood development is not only a social policy but a long-term economic policy. Getting it right in the early years is the morally right thing to do but also the smart thing — these children are the parents and workers of tomorrow” (8/3).