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New Model to Optimize Child Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Finds Success in Turkey

March - April, 2008  |  Volume 7, Issue 2

photo of a young Turkish boy

Many developed countries have redefined health care and have incorporated efforts to monitor and support the development of young children, as an effective strategy to enhance child development. As childhood mortality continues to fall in low- and middle- income (LAMI) countries, there is an emerging interest in introducing models to optimize child development and to reduce the burden of developmental difficulties beginning in early childhood.

To address these challenges, Dr. Ilgi O. Ertem of the Ankara University School of Medicine (Turkey) and his team have designed the Guide for Monitoring Child Development (GMCD) training program. GMCD offers a practical new method for developmental monitoring--and the early detection of developmental difficulties--within health systems in LAMI countries, such as Turkey.

The guide, supported by Fogarty funding and published in Pediatrics, has been adopted by the Turkish Ministry of Health and UNICEF-Turkey to be used in a nationwide training program on child development for primary health care providers.

The GMCD consists of written materials, slides and demonstration videos. The training involves one day, for each of the three GMCD components, and includes:

  • Interpreting the result of the GMCD, along with other existing clinical information;
  • Providing feedback of a child's specific strengths; and
  • Addressing a child's developmental difficulties and providing a plan to support the child's development with the child's caregiver.

Comparisons of the GMCD with other studies reviewed by the research team suggest that, during the early ages, children from different populations may attain developmental milestones at similar ages. If milestones with similar ages of attainment across populations can be included in instruments for developmental monitoring, such as the GMCD, this may have important implications for eliminating the need to standardize and validate instruments in each country.

A Guide for Monitoring Child Development in Low- and Middle Income Countries. Ertem IO, Dogan DG, Gok CG, Kizilates SU, Caliskan A, Atay G, Vatandas N, Karaaslan T, Baskan SG, Cicchetti DV. PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 3 March 2008.

To learn more, visit: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/121/3/e581

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