WHO introduces a new comprehensive method to assess early childhood development

The Global Scales for Early Development (GSED) is a new set of measurements that the World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced to track the growth of young children at the population level up to the age of three. The new GSED approach enables a thorough evaluation of young children’s development up to the age of 36 months, encompassing cognitive, socioemotional, language, and motor skills. To provide a comprehensive picture of children’s development that can be followed over time, the GSED offers a developmental score (D-score), a new universal unit to assess development.

The GSED package will aid in gathering and using data on early childhood development to assist nations, initiatives, and researchers in making better investments in the resources and assistance required for young children and their families. According to Dr. Anshu Banerjee, WHO Assistant Director-General ad interim, Universal Health Coverage and Life Course and Director for Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Aging, “the foundations of life-long health and well-being are formed during the vital first years of a child’s life.” The GSED will assist us in making more informed choices so that we can invest in nourishing care and promote children’s rights to realize their full potential.

Governments have long demanded credible and trustworthy population-based measurements to track children’s growth from birth to 36 months, but these have been hard to come by. Previous measurements either didn’t adequately take into account the variety of environments in which children are raised or were created to track a child’s growth after 24 months. The implementation of other measures needed significant resources. A multidisciplinary team of international specialists led by WHO created the new methodology on the basis of a single dataset gathered from 51 cohorts in 32 countries, 30 of which are low- or middle-income countries.

Supporting young people and their families

The GSED offers transparent, standardized metrics to track early childhood development over time and across child groups. It will assist in gathering data that will enable governments and policymakers better understand the obstacles to children’s developmental advancement in respective nations. Also, this will make it possible for them to direct resources more successfully toward the developmentally at-risk children’s policies and interventions. Global organizations can utilize the data for trend analyses and cross-country comparisons to guide funding allocation and intervention strategies.

According to Dr. Dévora Kestel, WHO Director of Mental Health and Substance Use, “much like children are measured for height and weight to verify that they are growing as best they can physically, the GSED will now enable for children’s development to be measured holistically.” “These new initiatives will assist us in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which call for leaving no child behind,”

Global Scales for Early Development Implementation

The GSED is offered through open access, universally accessible, and culturally neutral forms that only minimal translation is needed for. They are applicable in a variety of settings, such as dire circumstances and extensive data gathering projects. To date, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and United Republic of Tanzania (1248 children each) have validated the GSED measures, while data collection is still going on in Brazil, China, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Netherlands.

The measures (Short form and Long form), accompanying user manuals and item guides, a guide for translation and adaptation, a guide for scoring, and a technical report summarizing the methodology and the findings of its validation are all included in the present package. There is also a GSED App available. The GSED will continue to develop, and after more data has been collected, a more comprehensive package that includes international norms and criteria for child development will be made available.

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