Early Childhood Care and Development (ECD) 2001–2005

Note: Pages in this section have been stored solely for archiving purposes. Information contained here refers to the 2001–2005 CPAP. Follow this link for current details about UNICEF programmes in Turkey.

Photograph by Rana Mullan © UNICEF Turkey 2004

Timely immunisation during the first year is essential for every child’s healthy growth and development.
Photograph by Rana Mullan
© UNICEF Turkey 2004

A General Overview

Effective childcare practices are crucial to the healthy development of children. Children can be physically healthy and socially and mentally alert only if their development is ensured at home, in the neighbourhood and at school. Children must be regarded as whole beings, whose survival, growth, psycho-social and cognitive development is intertwined and interdependent. Childcare services are usually delivered on sectoral lines, such as welfare, health, education and social protection. If gaps in services and duplication of work are to be avoided and resources maximised, cooperation between sectors is essential.

Focusing on the welfare of infants and children under eight years of age, the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECD) Programme provides support for the development of family care and practices which promote the survival, growth, protection, psycho-social and cognitive development of children.

The Situation in Turkey

Children in poor rural and urban settlements of Turkey are faced with serious health, nutrition and developmental problems. Wide economic disparities and cultural differences in Turkish society are reflected geographically.

  • In rural areas, especially the poorer eastern regions, 48% of women deliver babies without the assistance of trained medical staff.
  • The IMR is 29‰, while the U5MR is 37‰.
  • More than 50% of infant deaths occur during the perinatal and neonatal period.
  • The MMR is almost 50 per 100,000 live births.
  • 35.5% of pregnant women under twenty years of age have not received any pre-natal services.
  • Rates of arrested growth for Under-fives is 16% and 8% are underweight. This is largely due to chronic malnutrition, iron, iodine and other deficiencies which also affect cognitive development.
  • A high rate of intra-familial marriage, particularly in eastern regions, increases the probability of having disabled children. There are an estimated three million disabled children in Turkey.
  • Many mothers aged between fourteen and forty-four in rural areas and poor urban neighbourhoods are functionally illiterate. Health and nutritional problems observed in their children are often considered normal.
  • Most of these children lack necessary early-learning experiences when they start school, which results in the delayed development of basic motor skills such as hand-to-eye coordination or the ability to hold a pencil. Only 16% of children have access to pre-school services which are usually subscribed and mostly in urban areas. Many children with delayed development and as such in greater need of stimulation and early learning are deprived of access to these services.


UNICEF runs several projects designed to improve Mother and Child Health and Nutrition:

  • Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) promotes an integrated approach to child health, new to Turkey, which focuses on the well being of the whole child. IMCI includes preventative and curative elements involving families and communities as well as health facilities.
  • Prevention of Perinatal and Neonatal Mortality (PPNM) Through the education of mothers and families and specialised training of health personnel, the project aims to reduce the number of deaths and disabilities among babies and children under five years of age.
  • Immunisation aims to immunise 90% of babies under one year old against Polio, Measles, Tuberculosis, Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus and Hepatitis B, to maintain Turkey’s Polio-free status and to achieve Measles-free status for the country.
  • Mother and Child Nutrition Activities support the development of a national food and nutrition plan of action to benefit the health and well being of Turkish women and children in the long term.
  • Prevention of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) which are the biggest preventable cause of mental retardation in the world. This project aims to eliminate IDD in Turkey.
  • Exclusive Breastfeeding during the First Six Months seeks to ensure that all babies under six months are exclusively breastfed, that additional foods are introduced from six months and that breastfeeding continues until the end of the second year for 90% of all babies in Turkey.
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