Dr. Symone Detmar
- child health
- youth health
- quality of life
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In the Netherlands we have a unique preventive youth health care system (YHC) reaching approximately 96% of all children. This system comprises preventive care which concentrates on monitoring the growth and development of the child to prevent the child from suffering severe health problems. This has been operational since the beginning of the 20th century and has resulted in a healthy population. TNO has extensive expertise in supporting and innovating this preventive health care system.
We see opportunities to introduce the Dutch youth health care system in developing countries as well. Approximately 43% of children under age of 5 are not reaching their developmental potential, due to a lack of adequate nutrition, nurturing care-giving and opportunities for early learning. This puts them and their countries at the risk of low human capital development. Growth and development early in life is essential for long-term education, wellbeing and lifelong productivity.
At the beginning of this year, Mrs Cecile Schat, a child health professional, contacted TNO for collaboration. In 2010, she set up a Dutch model for youth health care in Togo, in the Kpaleme region. Preventive care is offered to all children, whose growth and development are being monitored. Information and education about healthy living and good nutrition are given to them and their parents while projects are being carried out to implement lasting and sustainable improvements such as better hygiene, other types of food, improvements in schools and at home.
Over 10,000 consultations have been carried out in recent years and Cecile Schat contacted TNO to investigate whether the outcomes of this system can be investigated. While detailed data of the Togolese children have been kept, also in the Netherlands, the data were only stored on paper. To make evaluation possible, a first necessary step was to digitise all the paper files. In May 2017 a data entry program was developed by TNO and four Togolese women started to digitise the data of the growth, development and treatments carried out during approximately 10,000 consultations. All this data have been sent to TNO and stored (anonymously) in a data file.
The data digitisation process is expected to be completed by the end of this year. After that, the analysis of this unique cohort will start. This will include, among other things, analyses of the growth and development of Togolese children. Finally, the conclusions drawn on the basis of this will be used as input for the design of prevention programmes in developing countries.
Interested to join us? You want to improve youth health care in Africa, please contact us!