Belgrade, 13 November 2018 – The Development Counselling Unit of Zvezdara Health Center, equipped with new child and family friendly furniture and didactic/play materials in the period 2017 - 2018, was visited today by UNICEF Representative in Serbia Regina De Dominicis, Assistant Minister of Health Vesna Knjeginjic and creator of VODAVODA brand Vojin Djordjevic.
The Development Counseling center is equipped within the "Improvement of primary health care in support to the development of children in the earliest childhood in Belgrade", so that experts can improve their knowledge and skills in identifying problems in the development of young children, planning and providing the necessary support to children with disabilities and their parents.
„The earliest years, from birth to the age of three, are a critical, singular opportunity to shape young lives and to lay down the foundations for their future success in life, health and well-being. This is the period when the child's brain is the most perceptive to new learnings. It is also the period when the child’s brain is able to completely or partially compensate developmental delays if supported timely and effectively. The effects of support and interventions in the first years cannot be repeated ever after. The period of early childhood is the most important developmental phase in each person's life, and for children with disabilities, this period is irreplaceable.
That is why investment in early childhood development, and especially in services of early identification and early intervention, is one of the UNICEF's priorities within the cooperation with the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia. We thank our partner VODAVODA for dedicated investment in the early child development and the significant contributions they give in this area”, said UNICEF Representative in Serbia Regina De Dominicis.
The programme "Improving primary health care to support the development of children in the earliest childhood in Belgrade", implemented during 2017-2018 in partnership with the Association of Pediatricians of Serbia and 15 Belgrade Health Centers, was developed within the framework of the cooperation programme between the Ministry of Health and UNICEF.
It is aimed at improving the capacity of the health system to support the development of children in the earliest years of life. The program is harmonized with the National Early Childhood Development Directive adopted by the Government of Republic of Serbia in 2016, and the activities are part of the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Belgrade and UNICEF in Serbia.
The earliest years, from birth to the age of three, are a critical, singular opportunity to shape young lives and to lay down the foundations for their future success in life, health and well-being.
"According to the latest review by the Institute of Public Health, there are 35 development counselling units in Serbia with different capacities. For this reason, we are working intensively on improving and modernizing their work. We want to ensure that every child with developmental difficulties and disabilities and their parents have access to these important services since the early days of the child's life. We believe that every district in Serbia will soon have at least one quality development counselling unit", said Vesna Knjeginjic.
Addressing the guests, Director of the Health Center Zvezdara, Dr Dragana Trifunović Balanović, said:
"The Zvezdara Health Centre Development Counselling Unit has been providing services to families and children since 1980. We have always tried to apply the latest knowledge in early recognition and early intervention to ensure that children receive the best support and that parents receive t quality advice on how to encourage the development of their children through daily life activities".
Thanks to the corporate partnership between UNICEF in Serbia and VODAVODA company, the Development Counselling Units in Zvezdara and Lazarevac Health Centres have been refurbished and equipped with new furniture and didactic tools.
This partnership has enabled additional training for 104 paediatricians and healthcare associates from the development counselling units in Belgrade.
Healthcare workers have a unique opportunity to educate parents to stimulate the development of their children, to spot early developmental disorders, and to mobilize other professionals to jointly provide timely assistance to families. With the support of VODAVODA, an additional 15 000 children from the municipalities of Zvezdara and Lazarevac will be able to use the improved Developmental Counseling services.
"Water is one of the basic resources for life. At the VODAVODA company, we are doing our best to have a product that is recognized for its quality, and also to contribute to the well-being of children in need of this kind of service since the early age so that they have a healthy and productive life. Together with UNICEF, we support national efforts to ensure that every child in the r country reaches his/her potential and leads a happy and productive life”, said says the creator of VODAVODA brand Vojin Djordjevic.
Thanks to the "Improvement of primary health care to support the development of children in the earliest childhood in Belgrade" program, more than 3 600 children and 7 000 parents in Belgrade received improved paediatrician services in the field of early development in 2017 and 2018.
Every fifth child has been sent to the development counselling due to perceived developmental risks, difficulties and disabilities, while over a third of them have had progress in development.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/serbia