Centre for Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive, and Child Health

Series on implementation for early child development launched in Archives of Disease in Childhood

An Archives of Disease in Childhood Series


This is a critical moment for global action in early child development (ECD). Worldwide, an estimated 250 million children under the age of five are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential. The Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030) envision that every child has the opportunity to thrive and the 2018 WHO & UNICEF Nurturing Care Framework provides a policy framework for this.

To support the shift to large-scale implementation for ECD, policymakers and programmers require practicable suggestions for context-specific design and implementation interventions.

This series of papers, with 33 authors from over 20 institutions in Europe, North America, Asia, Latin America and Africa, is aimed at informing design and implementation of early child development programmes in low- and middle-income countries around the world.

Building on the evaluation of the Grand Challenges, Canada, Saving Brains portfolio and additional analyses, we discuss evidence to inform decision points encountered in scaling of early child development programmes.

All open access papers available for download now:

Dissemination materials:

Series launch events: 

The full series was launched at the International Pediatrics Association 29th Congress in Panama City, Panama in March 2019. The session was chaired by Professor Joy Lawn and Dr Queen Dube (University of Malawi), with presentations from Dr Vanessa Cavallera (WHO) and Dr Kate Milner (LSHTM/Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) with a dynamic panel of Dr Stefan Peterson (UNICEF), Dr Gagan Gupta (UNICEF India), Dr Jena Hamadani (icddr,b) and Dr Bernadette Daelmans (WHO).


The series was presented at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Conference in May 2019, by Dr Cally Tann (LSHTM/UCLH) and Victoria Ponce Hardy (LSHTM).

The series was presented at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh in May 2019, by Dr Jena Hamadani (icddr,b), with guests from the Ministry of Women and Chilfren Affairs, Community Clinic Health Support Trust, the Directorate General Health Services, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The session was chaired by Dr Md Younus Ali Pramanik, Additional Secretary Managing Director & Community Clinic Health Support Trust.


Learning from Saving Brains: informing policies and scale-up for early childhood (Early Childhood Matters, 2018)

Saving Brains is a multi-institution, multi-donor partnership led by Grand Challenges Canada which awarded 84 grants to innovation projects across 31 low- and middle-income countries between 2011 and 2017. The overall aim of Saving Brains is to develop sustainable and scalable ways of nurturing healthy brain development in the first 1000 days. Through technical support and leadership development, Saving Brains provides an opportunity to demonstrate proof of concept, to ‘transition to scale’ grants, which progress selected interventions towards larger scale and sustainability.

As one of the largest investments in early childhood interventions in low- and middle-income countries, the Saving Brains portfolio has unique potential to inform understanding of processes towards scaling.

Read more about Saving Brains here.

Download the full article here.

Design and layout of report cards by Chris Rowland (Miracle Interactive), Victoria Ponce Hardy, Kate Milner & Joy Lawn (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine).

The series has been made possible by funding support from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The Saving Brains impact and process evaluation was funded by Grand Challenges Canada.


  1. Milner, K.M., Kohli-Lynch, M.K., Tann, C.J. and Lawn, J.E. on behalf of the Expert Advisory Group and Saving Brains Platform Team. (2016, unpublished). Saving Brains Portfolio Impact and Process Evaluation Report. London: School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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