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Solomon Islands government and partners commit to new strategies and resources to give children best start in life

© UNICEF Pacific/2018/Taffesse
Honourable Prime Minister Rick N. Houenipwela and UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett arrive at the forum.

HONIARA, 26 October, 2018 – Today at a National Early Childhood Forum held in Honiara, the Solomon Islands government and partners committed to investing in early childhood development to ensure all Solomon Islands children are given the best opportunities in life.

The early years of a child’s life, especially the first 1000 days from when a mother is pregnant until a child is two years old, are vital in a child’s development and growth and impacts on their risk of illness and quality of life as adults.

Honourable Prime Minister Rick N. Houenipwela, who opened the event, said, “According to the Solomon Islands Human Capital Index, a child born in Solomon Islands today will only be able to achieve up to 44 per cent of their potential. This is due to the huge gaps that exist in our healthcare, education and protection systems for children. Building the human resource capital of our country implies that we are investing in the next generation.”

“Participants today will discuss the status of our interventions as a country in children’s development and seek to determine the required steps for coordinating, planning, budgeting and implementing in a holistic manner to ensure we are able to meet our goals efficiently with the resources at our disposal. Parents also have the most important responsibility in building our human capital,” he added.

The national forum, Early Childhood Development: Building Human Resource Capital, Redirecting the Next 40 Years, organized by UNICEF together with the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development and Ministry of Health and Medical Services, brought together government ministries, non-government organisations, donors and other partners to commit to developing plans together to improve the lives of children in the Solomon Islands.

Speaking at the event, UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett, said, “We are here because we recognize that the most important capital a country could have starts from laying strong foundations at the earliest stages of life – during early childhood when we can make the most impact.”

Dr. Pia Britto, Chief and Senior Advisor for Early Childhood Development for UNICEF, added, “A child’s brain development and growth in the early years is the foundation of future learning and good health. Investing in the development of children in these early years is one of the most cost-effective strategies for a healthier and more productive population.”

This national forum follows the active participation of Solomon Islands in the September 2017 Pacific ECD Conference in which Solomon Islands endorsed, along with 14 other Pacific island countries, the Pasifika Call to Action on ECD – an action agenda that promotes better investments and better coordination for ECD in the Pacific region.

About one in every three children in the Solomon Islands experiences stunted growth, which is caused during the first 1000 days of a child’s life – stunting is irreversible, and can be prevented through good nutrition, and access to clean water and sanitation. Only one in every three children in the Solomon Islands have access to basic sanitation facilities, and many still experience violence and abuse.

The Solomon Islands Government has taken steps to improve early childhood development under the Pasifika Call to Action, including the roll out nationally of one year of pre-primary education, passing the Child and Family Welfare Act 2017, and providing training for health workers on high impact nutrition interventions.

 

 
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