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Georgetown, Guyana – (March 31, 2017) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, this evening, joined with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the Caribbean Regional Launch in Guyana of The Lancet Series on Early Childhood Development (ECD), which focuses on the “the invaluable impact” of a nurturing environment on early childhood development. The Series was launched at a cocktail reception, held at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Turkeyen, which coincided with the Meeting of the 32nd Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD).

The findings reported in The Lancet Series is based on empirical data, which has found that providing the proper nutrition and stimulation during the first 1000 days of a child’s life are the most crucial as they have a direct impact on their later productivity.

The First Lady, who had previously collaborated with UNICEF in Guyana during the roll-out of the ECD programme and had travelled to Mahdia, Potaro-Siparuni (Region Eight) was invited to speak at the event told the gathering that, “Nurturing care is the basic right of every child. The stark realities outlined in The Lancet Series demand the urgent elaboration and implementation of coherent policies for early childhood development. These, in turn, require inter-ministerial and inter-agency collaboration, as well as public and private sector cooperation, in order to propel our countries toward the achievement of sustainable development.”

From L-R: Mr. Vincenzo Placco, Education Specialist, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Officer; Ms. Sylvie Fouet, Representative, UNICEF Guyana and Suriname; First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger and Professor Rafael Perez-Escamilla.

Mrs. Granger also noted that while most Governments have a vested interest in the care and wellbeing of its citizens, they are confronted with numerous challenges, particularly those in the Caribbean Region which, in addition to dealing with declining financial resources; several of them are grappling with the adverse impacts of climate change as most of those countries are small, low-lying states with scarce resources. “The imperative of linking the health, education, economic and social wellbeing of the mother to the environment in which a child is nurtured from birth is not new. So too is the recognition that an educated parents and a well-nourished and well-adjusted child will become productive citizens capable of contributing to the development of the nation,” the First Lady said.

Meanwhile, in her address, Ms. Sylvie Fouet, Representative, UNICEF Guyana and Suriname thanked the First Lady and the CARICOM Secretariat and Member States for their strategic partnership in embracing the launch of the Series. “Early Childhood Development is key to a productive life for a child… I am pleased that the Members of the COHSOD have discussed the findings of this research and endorse ECD priority as part of the Human Resource Development 2030 strategy. I strongly encourage you to become [an] ECD champion in your respective countries. Investing in early childhood is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing the ability of our children to reach full potential,” she said.

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First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger gestures as she interacts with Ms. Sylvie Fouet, Representative, UNICEF Guyana and Suriname during the cocktail reception.

Other attendees at the launch included Ms. Myrna Bernard, Director, Human Development CARICOM, who chaired the proceedings; Mr. Mr. Vincenzo Placco, Education Specialist, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Officer; Professor Rafael Perez-Escamilla, one of the 19 authors of The Lancet Series; Dr. Douglas Salter, Assistant Secretary General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat; Mr. Martin Baptiste of the Caribbean Development Bank, Ms. Mikiko Tanaka, United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative; Ministers with responsibility for education across the region, delegates for the COHSOD and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

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