Given the importance of providing more holistic care to support optimal childhood development, USAID Advancing Nutrition worked with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to test the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of integrating responsive care and early learning (RCEL) into existing health and nutrition services in Ghana. The mixed methods study, conducted in four districts of northern Ghana, included piloting the RCEL Addendum package and building the capacity of health workers to provide tailored, integrated counseling on RCEL and infant and young child feeding (IYCF) at child welfare clinics.
In the districts where the intervention was tested, there were improvements in responsive care, early learning practices, and complementary feeding practices. Also, health workers and supervisors considered the integrated RCEL/IYCF service package as a complete package as it helps address the child's needs holistically
These findings provide important evidence on how to strengthen the delivery of nurturing care in Ghana for all children to thrive and achieve their full potential. The GHS has initiated steps to scale up the adoption of the integrated approach across the country having trained key officials across the 16 regions on the package.
The results of this pilot were disseminated in Accra on September 13, 2023. Stakeholders from the GHS; Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection; UNICEF; Feed the Future, Resilience in Northern Ghana (RING) II systems strengthening activity and others gathered to discuss the findings of this study and agreed on the next steps for rolling out the program across the country. Participants were very excited with the results and unanimously agreed that more attention and inclusion should be given to RCEL when programming for nutrition interventions.
Let’s join hands to strengthen and sustain these efforts for improved early childhood growth and development.