Abstract

Before children reach school age they must negotiate threats from a number of diseases. More than 50% of child deaths are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles, malnutrition and HIV. For those who survive, health and nutrition can affect children's development. School readiness depends on cognitive, motor and socio-emotional development, which can be affected by, among other things, undernutrition, iron deficiency anemia and malaria. There is clear evidence of the benefits of preschool health and nutrition interventions to tackle these three conditions. For malnourished children, psychosocial stimulation can be as effective as nutritional supplementation in compensating for delayed cognitive development. In general, interventions in this preschool age group have substantial and consistent effects on development and education, which are generally larger than for school-age children. Effects are seen in all dimensions of school readiness - cognitive, motor and socio-emotional development - but are perhaps greatest for motor development. They also have a greater impact on the most disadvantaged children and can help to promote equity in educational outcomes. Overall, evidence suggests that early childhood health and nutrition interventions have the potential to make a major contribution to achieving the goal of Education for All.

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