Mobile Integrated Early Childhood Development
To help realize the ambitious targets of the Integrated Early Childhood Development initiative, UNICEF is taking a high-tech approach to overcome geographical barriers and deliver improved healthcare to vulnerable children in remote areas.
In Viet Nam, inequities and resulting disparities in health outcomes continue to persist and even widen, particularly among the poor and ethnic minorities in hard-to-reach areas. Child mortality and maternal mortality rates in mountainous rural areas are four-fold higher than in rural and urban ones. In nutrition, a reduction in Viet Nam’s child malnutrition rate has been offset by pockets of resistance and the stunting rate in under-5 children remains high.
“A low level of awareness about essential childcare behaviours, especially in hard-to-reach communities, is a major barrier to realizing children’s rights to health and nutrition services and optimum outcomes.”
Addressing these concerns is a key focus of UNICEF’s flagship Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) initiative, a life-cycle and integrated approach currently being implemented in three provinces (Dien Bien, Gia Lai and Kon Tum) to ensure children are safe, healthy, ready to learn and thrive.
To reduce multiple vulnerabilities and ensure children’s full development, an innovative mobile technology tracking system called Mobile Integrated Early Childhood Development (MIECD) is being deployed to enhance, monitor and evaluate the cross-sectoral implementation of IECD.
High telephone coverage in Viet Nam allows MIECD to overcome geographical barriers to reach the most vulnerable children in remote areas, to address widening equity disparities in healthcare and service access among different population groups. The system allows for real time data collection of vital information about mothers and children, ranging from the total number of parents and caregivers enrolling in parenting programmes to children being exclusively breast-fed in their first six months.
“MIECD is a strategic extension of the health information system that will contribute to informed decisions at critical times to save mothers and children’s lives.”
Not only a database, MIECD is also an artificial intelligence-driven analytic system that provides complete decision support for appropriate and timely actions at critical points of care to save mothers and children’s lives through data warehousing, predicting, data mining and advanced analysis.
MIECD will be piloted in 27 of the most disadvantaged districts in northwestern Dien Bien province and the Central Highlands provinces of Gia Lai and Kon Tum. With the pilot project expected to have significant impacts on the lives of 35,000 children aged 0-8 years and 25,000 parents, UNICEF will also support the nationwide scaling-up of MIECD.