Integrating early child development programs into health and nutrition services in Bangladesh: benefits and challenges.Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Jan;1308(1):192-203
Authors: Hamadani JD, Nahar B, Huda SN, Tofail F
Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries of the world with the highest population density. The Bangladesh government recognizes the educational and financial benefits of early childhood development (ECD) and has incorporated ECD into the national plan of action. However, ECD activities are not fully established in the country and there have been few evaluations. In this paper, we present ECD programs that are integrated into health and nutrition services in Bangladesh. We present four evaluation reports of such programs and we also include seven published research projects showing evidence that such integrations are feasible. We provide short reviews on coverage, methodology, and effects of the published reports and share our experience of challenges faced and steps taken to solve them. Overall, very few programs are based on scientific evidence and fewer are even evaluated. The research projects so far conducted are promising and there is sufficient evidence on feasibility of integrating ECD activities into nutrition and health programs. Suggestions are made on measures to overcome the implementation problems and on suitable methods to establish high-quality ECD programs in Bangladesh and in other low- and middle-income countries.