New Child Development National centre launched in Georgia
What is needed to ensure the best start in life for every child3 March, 2009, Tbilisi. The new Child Development Centre is launched in Georgia aimed at assessing health and the overall development of a child, managing developmental delays and behavioural problems, and providing quality and accessible services for child development surveillance. The official presentation of the centre at the Iashvili Central Children’s Hospital was attended by the First Lady of Georgia Ms Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs, Minister of labour, Health and Social Affairs Mr Alexander Kvitashvili, Vice-Speaker of Georgia, Mr Giorgi Tsereteli, UNICEF Representative in Georgia Ms Giovanna Barberis.
The Child Development Centre was launched at the Iashvili Children’s Hospital that serves as a clinical practice site for the Tbilisi State Medical University division of general pediatrics with the support of UNICEF, Trieste Institute of Child Health and the Government of Lithuania.
“Supporting child’s development is the best strategy for poverty reduction”, said Professor Ketevan Nemsadze, Director of the Iashvili Children’s Hospital at the presentation of the centre.
The Centre will work in the following directions: assess and evaluate all children of age 0 – 18, in terms of health, psychological development and behavioural problems; identify and manage developmental delays; serve as a training centre for public health care professionals, pediatricians, social workers and educators; serve as a diagnostic centre for developmental disorders; ensure a full diagnostic assessment and necessary treatment and rehabilitation of children 0-3 in state institutions and will provide training and technical supervision to the health professionals and educators working in such residential homes; act as a research centre for early childhood development studies, create the relevant database and carry out proper surveillance for the whole country.
“I do congratulate our partners for the occasion of creation the Child development Centre and express our gratitude to all who have contributed to the opening of the centre”, said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “Early childhood development concept takes into account a wide range of children’s needs: good health care and nutrition for children and mothers, clean water and proper sanitation, psycho-social care and attention to early learning, along with better protection from violence, exploitation and discrimination. It is of crucial importance to consider all of these components to ensure the best possible start in life for every child. The Child development Centre will evaluate children based on all these components and provide the relevant care and support. It is a welcoming fact that the Centre will provide free services for IDP children”.
The Child development Centre was created within the framework of the nationwide Early Childhood Development strategy which underlines the importance of children’s holistic development, and defines children’s needs in both health and educational spheres. The latest scientific evidence suggests that programmes that combine health and education are more effective in improving a child's current wellbeing and preventing future problems.
Key components of the strategy are: the promotion of child cognitive, emotional and social development through early interventions at household and community level and prevention, early detection, treatment and rehabilitation of children with developmental delays and disability.
In Georgia there is no information available on the prevalence of severe disabilities and developmental disorders in children of preschool and school age. The available information indicates that child infant and newborn mortality rates are unacceptably high. In particular, under-5 mortality rate 35 per thousand live birth and infant mortality rate is 31 per thousand live birth. Based on a very rough estimate, out of the 250.000 children under five, at least 100 per thousand are expected to suffer from some kind of developmental delay or disorder. Most of these children do not receive appropriate care, first because of late identification, second because of the lack of adequate professional resources and competences. In Georgia, similarly to all the former soviet countries, unsubstantiated diagnoses of neurological impairment in newborn babies are still widespread and lead to inappropriate labeling and consequent drug treatment, both of which are potentially hazardous for early child development.
The National Strategy on Early Childhood Development was developed by the National Alliance on Early Childhood Development, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs with the support of UNICEF. The one-year long National Alliance on Early Childhood Development, established by the Parliament of Georgia and headed by the Vice-Sepaker of the Georgian Parliament Mr Giorgi Tsereteli, is leading the overall implementation of the strategy. The Alliance functions through five thematic groups one of which is headed by proffesor Ketevan Nemsadze, Head of the Iashvili Clinic.
The Child’s Development priorities were also defined at the Reproductive Health Coordination Council headed by the First Lady of Georgia Ms Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs. This was later followed by the training course for chief pediatricians and teahcers of the Tbilisi State Medical University facilitated by Dr. Giorgio Tamburlini, Scientific Director and Dr. Marco Carrozzi, Head of the Child Neurology and Psichiatry Unit at the Trieste Institute of Child Health.