The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have developed the National plan for reproductive, maternal, new born and child health 2022-2026 in collaboration with WHO-EMRO region and concerned stakeholder aiming to improve the maternal and child health. Early childhood activities are part of this plan under the rubric “Institutionalize nurturing care for early childhood development including all relevant sectors”. Recognizing that early childhood development covers children from 0 – 8 years of age, the meeting focused on the earliest years and the support that caregivers and families need to enable young children to make a best start in life. Within the UAE, there are multiple actors and partners working to improve early childhood development. The meeting served as a starting point towards coordination of these activities and development of a national plan.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) in collaboration with the World Health Organization and partners convened a national workshop with the aim to strengthen and harmonize programmes for early childhood development in the country with a special focus on intersectoral collaboration.
- Share evidence of why it is important to invest in early childhood development with a particular focus on nurturing care from conception to 3 years of age;
- Introduce the Nurturing Care Framework and its key components and build awareness and understanding among stakeholders about the importance of nurturing care for children's development; and
- Initiate the development of a multisectoral roadmap for implementation of the Nurturing Care Framework in the country.
Agenda and Participants
The 3-day meeting took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from June 19-22, 2023.
The agenda was organized around technical presentations, updates on ongoing activities, group work to identify opportunities, challenges and priority activities, and plenary discussions. On day 1, the meeting was opened by Dr. Salem Al Darmaki, Assistant Under-Secretary – MOHAP and participants were addressed by Mr. Eltayeb Adam, Area Representative, UNICEF Gulf; the WHO Desk Office to UAE, Dr Hala el Sakr; and the WHO regional advisor for child and adolescent health, Dr Khalid Siddeeg. On day 2, participants were addressed by Dr Nada Hasan Al Marzouqi, Director of Public Health and Prevention Department. Over the 3 days, participants received overview presentations on global, regional and scientific background, discussed the current situation in UAE and developed recommendations for next steps that MOHAP can take forward in coordination with other Ministries and with national authorities.
Participants represented MOHAP, Ministry of Community Development, Ministry of Education, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah Health Authorities, Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, the Emirates Health Service (EHS, responsible for health in the 4 other emirates), universities, clinical services, , foundations, and the UNICEF office for the Gulf countries. The workshop was coordinated by UAE MOHAP and facilitated by WHO experts.