October 24, 2016
Written by Shawn Baker, Mariam Claeson, Julie McLaughlin
This post originally appeared on Impatient Optimists.
The importance of investing in the early years of a child’s life took center stage at the IMF-World Bank Group Annual Meetings on October 6, 2016. During the Human Capital Summit, (Watch: http://live.worldbank.org/human-capital-summit) Heads of State, Ministers of Finance and Economics and other officials from nine countries: Cameroun, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Senegal, Tanzania and Pakistan – along with Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank Group, emphasized the importance of investing in the early years as a key driver of economic growth and competitiveness. (Read: At Human Capital Summit, Global Financing Facility Highlighted as Key Partnership for Scaling up Investments in Early Years of Life)
We have learnt that early childhood experiences have a profound impact on brain development, affecting learning, health, behavior and adult income. According to the World Bank, the per capita income penalty a country incurs for not eliminating stunting is 6% on average, while Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia incur penalties of about 8% of GDP per capita.
The Lancet recently released a series of papers on Early Childhood Development that found that children suffered lifelong disadvantages from poverty and stunting and that these children faced an average 26% loss of adult income per year. Investing in healthy mothers, exclusive breastfeeding and proper infant and young child feeding are three important places to start. The Global Financing Facility (GFF) is ensuring that pregnant women, mothers, newborn, children and adolescents access high-quality health, nutrition and reproductive services that enable a healthy, safe and planned pregnancy, delivery, and post-natal care, and well-child care (Read: Breastfeeding: A Smart Investment for Reaching the Sustainable Development Goals). By supporting countries through targeted and innovative investments in health and nutrition, the GFF contributes to the goal of reducing chronic malnutrition in children and expanding access to early childhood development services by 2020.