Early Childhood Development
The first years of life are the most important period in the life of each child. At this time, the foundation is laid for his/her further development and well-being
In Kazakhstan, significant progress has been made in reducing child mortality since 2008, when the country switched to international criteria for live births. Neonatal mortality rates have declined by more than 50[OG1] . In many ways, the decline in mortality is due to the improved well-being of the population and increased spending on health care. Since 2011, the strategies of “Integrated Management of Childhood Illness” (IMCI) and “Making pregnancy safer” (MPS) have been introduced and distributed throughout the country. The reduction of these indicators was achieved by improving emergency care for mothers, newborns and young children.
Despite a significant decline, infant mortality in Kazakhstan is still relevant. In the regions, programs for perinatal and neonatal care and care for sick newborns do not work effectively.
Up to half of the risks that lead to illness and infant mortality can be effectively eliminated within the primary health care system through effective prenatal and postnatal care and by improving parental skills in caring for young children. UNICEF provides technical assistance to improve the skills and qualifications of health workers to support early childhood development.
The big common project of UNICEF and the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan is the introduction of a universal progressive patronage nurses (visiting nurses) model. It has proven its advantages over the years and in different contexts. It aims to reduce infant and child mortality, prematurity and morbidity. Home-visiting services contribute to the comprehensive development of the child, reduction of injuries and improvement of family relationships. Moreover, this model involves socially vulnerable and isolated families in health care and social protection services.
The patronage nurse not only instructs and assists parents in properly caring for a child, but also accompanies the family if the potential child vulnerability is identified. Patronage nurses pay close attention to the needs of the child and the mother from the gestation period to the age of five.
In 2016-2017, in the Kyzylorda and Mangystau regions successfully tested the new patronage model for pregnant women and families with children under 5.
Unique for Kazakhstan, the universal progressive patronage model in less than two years has demonstrated significant results in the pilot areas.