World Bulletin / News Desk
One third of young children living in developing countries are not meeting the basic mental development milestones, factor that can adversely affect their health, success in adulthood, and education levels, researchers said on Tuesday last week.
Dana McCoy, the lead researcher of study that uses statistics from UNICEF and the US Agency for International Development has said that although poverty and malnutrition are contributing factors, more research needs to be done to understand the root causes of the problem
The report has stated that nearly 81 million children between three and four were not meeting basic developmental benchmarks with the highest numbers of affected children coming from sub-Saharan Africa, including Chad, Sierra Leone and Central African Republic.
"By virtue of the fact that these children are not meeting these milestones doesn't mean they can't go on to have a very healthy, happy and productive life," said McCoy, who conducted the study with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and funding body Grand Challenges Canada.
"There are a number of programmes and interventions that can be implemented at any age group to really support children's development, help them to thrive in their settings."
"With a lot of the efforts that have been made internationally in the public health and medical realm, we've come to a lot of success in helping children to survive," McCoy, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"But now we're moving into an era where we can not only help children to survive, but really focus on helping them to thrive."
Nearly half of all under-five deaths are associated with malnutrition, according to the World Health Organisation, but the rate of improvement is accelerating, with child mortality falling quicker since the millennium than it did in the 1990s.
McCoy noted that despite the challenges, the majority of young children living in poor nations are meeting developmental benchmarks.
"There are a number of children who are quite resilient and they are able to thrive and so we can and should look to those children as examples of how to really think about development".