The iHV was honoured to be asked to present the keynote address at the UNICEF/ WHO/ ISSA launch of their early childhood initiative at a webinar held on 14 October 2022. This international initiative is being supported by numerous nations across Europe and Asia that recognise the important contributions of health visitors and home visiting to improving child outcomes and reducing inequalities.

We have recently been provided with the link to the webinar, so you can now watch and listen to Alison Morton’s presentation at the online event, ‘Harnessing the Power of Home Visiting’. Alison’s 15-minute presentation starts at approximately 19:30 into the webinar.

Background to the webinar: In 2021, UNICEF ECARO, WHO Regional Office for Europe, and the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) joined efforts to launch Health Systems for Early Child Development initiative. This initiative is to accelerate efforts in Europe and Central Asia to build more “developmentally oriented” and family-centered health systems and services empowering caregivers to provide children with nurturing care – a safe and enabling environment that ensures good health and nutrition, protects them from threats, offers opportunities for early learning and encourages responsive and emotionally supportive interactions with parents and caregivers.

The Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) presented its final report to the WHO Director-General, culminating a two-year process to address the alarming levels of childhood obesity and overweight globally.

The ECHO report proposes a range of recommendations for governments aimed at reversing the rising trend of children aged under 5 years becoming overweight and obese.

The ECHO Report has 6 main recommendations for governments

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Promote intake of healthy foods

Implement comprehensive programmes that promote the intake of healthy foods and reduce the intake of unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages by children and adolescents (through, for example, effective taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages and curbing the marketing of unhealthy foods).

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Promote physical activity

Implement comprehensive programmes that promote physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviours in children and adolescents.

Preconception and pregnancy care.

Preconception and pregnancy care

Integrate and strengthen guidance for the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) with current guidance on preconception and antenatal care (to reduce risk of childhood obesity by preventing low or high birth weight, prematurity and other complications in pregnancy).

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Early childhood diet and physical activity

Provide guidance on, and support for, healthy diet, sleep and physical activity in early childhood and promote healthy habits and ensure children grow appropriately and develop healthy habits(by promoting breastfeeding; limiting consumption of foods high in fat, sugar and salt; ensuring availability of healthy foods and physical activity in the early child care settings).

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Health, nutrition and physical activity for school-age children

Implement comprehensive programmes that promote healthy school environments, health and nutrition literacy and physical activity among school-age children and adolescents (by establishing standards for school meals; eliminating the sale of unhealthy foods and drinks and; including health and nutrition and quality physical education in the core curriculum);

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Weight management

Provide family-based, multi component, lifestyle weight management services for children and young people who are obese.