Advantages and challenges of integration: opportunities for integrating early childhood development and nutrition programming

A growing body of evidence supports the notion that integrated programs addressing nutrition and stimulation provide stronger impacts on nutritional and developmental outcomes than either intervention alone. When translating evidence into practice, several advantages and challenges for integration can be noted. Combined interventions may be more efficient than separate interventions, because they are intended for the same population and make use of the same facilities, transportation, and client contacts. In addition, for families, particularly for those most at risk, combined interventions can also lead to increased access to services. However, in order for integrated nutrition and early childhood development interventions to be successful, a variety of challenges must be addressed. These include workload of staff and supervisors, communication and coordination among different ministries and among staff in different sectors, and common language and measurement. It must be acknowledged at both the national and community levels that comprehensive, integrated care addressing both the physical and developmental needs of the child is key to promoting optimal health, growth, and development for children.

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