BANGKOK, 11 January 2019 - To mark the National Children’s Day, the Ministry of Public Health and UNICEF today launched the Early Moments Matter on Mobile (EMMM) – an innovative mobile platform to help parents gain stronger knowledge and skills on early childhood development for their young children during the first six years of life.
Early childhood, which spans the period up to six years old, is the most critical period for building a strong foundation for a child’s future development, and a golden period to invest in young children and their families.
Despite much progress made for children over the past decades in Thailand, challenges remain for young children in areas such as malnutrition, low exclusive breastfeeding rates, relatively low levels of parental support for young children’s learning and development in the home as well as exposure to violent discipline.
“The EMMM is designed to help address those issues, which is to help promote parenting knowledge and skills to ensure good health and effective learning for young children in Thailand,” said Dr. Supakit Sirilak, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Public Health at the launch held today at the Ministry of Public Health.
The EMMM has been designed with the support of UNICEF as a solution to help parents strengthen their knowledge and skills related to child care and development. It is a two-way communication platform that will provide information on parenting, from the period of pregnancy up until the child turns six years old. Based on UNICEF’s Rapid-Pro software, the information will reach parents through Facebook Messenger in the form of messages, alerts, video links, photos and other user-friendly media.
“To support children’s age appropriate growth and development, global and local evidence have shown the importance of parents actively engaging in their young children’s learning and development at home,” said Thomas Davin, UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “The EMMM aims to offer a platform for parents to be better informed and gain some additional ideas around activities that are foundational for their children, such as reading, singing songs and nursery rhymes, going to the library, counting and drawing.”
By simply registering through the Messenger box in www.facebook.com/9YangTH, subscribers will regularly be provided – in Thai language - with information on key themes related to childhood care and development including on pre-natal care, breastfeeding and nutrition, the importance of play and stimulation, disease prevention, hygiene and safety promotion, and positive communication to raise children in a loving and protective way.
“Accurate and timely information on parenting knowledge and skills will certainly help parents engage their children in activities that support their optimal development,” said Dr. Panpimol Wipulakorn, Director General of the Department of Health, adding that early moments are critical for cognitive, social, emotional and physical development.
According to a number of surveys led by UNICEF, parents in Thailand have expressed a strong demand for knowledge, training and instruction from early childhood development professionals to strengthen those critical parenting skills.
However, the UNICEF-led survey also found many Thai parents don’t feel they have adequately skills and knowledge to engage and support their young children.
To address this demand, the platform aims to provide the necessary knowledge and engage parents by answering questions to be posted by registered parents via Messenger box. The exchange of information between parents and EMMM will also allow the platform to collect and generate data related to parenting knowledge and practices. It is hoped that the data will support policy makers in improving national programmes and services designed for young children and families.
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.