|Dr. Nicholas Alipui and Pia Rebello Britto, Ph. D.,
assistant professor at the Yale Chid Study Center
As the closing keynote for the 2013 GHLI Conference Nicholas Alipui, M.D., director of programs at UNICEF, noted the organization’s recent successes and their decision to focus now on early childhood development. With a 40% reduction in the transmission of HIV between mothers and infants, nearly one billion people lifted out of poverty, and immunization rates on the rise, great accomplishments have been made. These achievements are challenged by the need for new strategies in other areas. Early childhood development issues are a growing concern and UNICEF is dedicated to determining who, where and what needs to change to improve the lives of children around the world.
The first 24 months of a child’s development are crucial. Child development paradigms are very different based on culture and social norms. UNICEF’s work aims at understanding the environment where children are raised as key to their growth. As Dr. Alipui noted, “Early childhood development is essential to fostering productive citizens and sustainable communities. By acknowledging and taking ownership of issues, it is possible to sustain impact.”
Delegates from Brazil, Ghana, the Eastern Caribbean and Uganda spent one week at the GHLI Conference learning from each other and Yale faculty about strategies to address specific health issues. At the close of the week, Elizabeth Bradley, Ph.D., offered a toast to the group acknowledging the importance of their work in tackling global health issues. “This Conference allows us the opportunity to be in each other’s shoes and to learn from each other. With this collaboration we are able to create more comprehensive, creative and compassionate approaches to health issues.”
The country delegations focused on taking on the challenging issues related to early childhood development, non-communicable diseases and mental illness. Each delegation will be accompanied home by a GHLI Student Fellow student who will work with them for two months to execute the strategies developed at the Conference