The Government of Liberia convened a national sensitization meeting on nurturing care for early childhood development in Buchanan, 26 – 27 June 2019. The Family Health Division brought together close to 200 participants including members of the legislature, Deputy Ministers of gender, education and justice, superintendents and health officers from the 15 counties, staff of Ministry of Health, civil society organizations, development partners, UN agencies and the national youth representative on health amongst others.

The objectives were to orient participants on the concept of nurturing care, present and discuss ongoing initiatives in the country that are supportive of nurturing care, discuss intersectoral linkages and stimulate participants to identify actions that are in their mandate to implement.

Participants quickly familiarized themselves with the concept of nurturing care and agreed that it is most timely for the country to invest. The war and ebola crisis have left scars that several generations are still coming to terms with. As government and partners are working to increase coverage of services in health, education and other sectors, missing components of nurturing care can be integrated at relative low costs, such as support for responsive caregiving and early learning. Discussions focused on the need to strengthen systems, improve quality of services, ensure that public workforce is well valued and private sector is engaged. Families and communities should be at the centre of all efforts.

In follow-up of the meeting ongoing initiatives, entry points and materials that can contribute to nurturing care in health services will be mapped and a strategy developed for the health sector to play its role, alongside education and other sectors. The Open Society Foundation (OSF) through the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), UNICEF, USAID and WHO committed their support to the Government of Liberia to strengthen the national response and to leave no child behind.

Liberia nurturing care
Participants engaged in group work on the second day
Liberia nurturing care
Bentoe Zoogley Tehoungue, Director of the Family Health Division at the Ministry of Health
Liberia nurturing care
David Baysah, national consultant