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Early detection and early intervention of developmental difficulties critical for children with disabilities

Participants at the training of trainers on early detection and early intervention of developmental difficulties of children

VELES, 11 February 2014:  The National Association of Nurses and Midwifes and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched an initiative to build the capacity of patronage nurses to identify, as early as possible, signs of developmental delays and provide families with needed support. 

Under the title “Learning together: Supporting families and children with developmental difficulties”, the initiative is the health sector component of a multi-sector programme supported by UNICEF and partners to improve services so that children with disabilities enjoy their right to full participation and inclusion in society.  

“Children with disabilities who receive quality care and development opportunities, especially in the early years of life, are more likely to reach their full potential and enjoy productive lives,” said Dr. Bertrand Desmoulins, UNICEF Representative.  “Early detection and intervention of developmental delays is critical to ensure children receive timely support.” 

According to UNICEF, moderate disabilities or developmental delays are often not identified until children reach school age. Through the home visiting service, patronage nurses are well placed to work with parents so that children are not being left behind. 

“The patronage nurse home visits are very important for prevention. They are often in a better position, than doctors, to provide support to families, such as parent education,” said Dr. Aspazija Sofijanova, Director of the University Children’s Hospital.   

Through the capacity building initiative, patronage nurses will be better equip to track the overall - physical, social, cognitive and emotional - development of infants and young children; identify signs of developmental difficulties; and provide support to parents and families. 

“Dealing with disabilities and developmental delays can be stressful for parents. They often face fear and find it challenging to cope with associated stereotypes and negative attitudes.  Through the programme, patronage nurses will develop new skills to help parents deal with these challenges,” said Ms. Velka Likic, President of the National Association of nurses and midwifes. 

“This is an interdisciplinary field, where we are contributing from the point of the health sector,” said Dr. Tatjana Baevska Vuckovic, Director of Health Center Skopje.  “Social care and protection institutions are other key players, and together through sharing experience we hope to improve and further develop services for children with disabilities.”

The patronage nurse capacity building initiative will be rolled out through a cascade model.  This week, a selection of patronage nurses are participating in a train-the-trainer course, which they will roll out to all patronage nurses throughout the country over the course of the year.   

For more information, please contact: Suzie Pappas Capovska, UNICEF Skopje (02) 3231-150 (ext: 127), 072 236 725 or or Irina Ivanovska (02) 3231-150 (ext: 107), 072 236 722 or




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