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Paraguay will improve developmental growth of 400,000 children under age five with IDB support

$27 million loan for Early Child Development Program will focus on cognitive, emotional, and physical development by strengthening preventive care

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a loan for $27 million to Paraguay for an early childhood development program that will help improve cognitive, emotional, and physical development of children under age five through early detection and treatment of developmental disorders.

The program will strengthen measures to promote child development through the primary health care system, with the participation of communities and through the use of culturally relevant approaches. In addition, the program will strengthen diagnostic and treatment services at other health care levels.

“These actions will benefit an estimated 400,000 children under age five,” said Nohora Rocío Alvarado, IDB social protection specialist and project team leader. “During these years the human brain grows faster than at any later stage of life. It is then that learning takes place more easily and generates higher returns on investment in human capital development."

The program includes the creation of an Early Intervention Service for the diagnosis and treatment of children. The service’s trained staff will work as part of the network of Family Health Units, hospitals, and maternal and child care units. Financing will also be provided to strengthen hospitals and maternal and child care facilities as well as the management of monitoring and evaluation of early childhood development.

The program will take a comprehensive approach that includes health, nutrition, early stimulation, and parenting education. It has been shown that these actions, carried out both in children's centers and health facilities, result in better childhood physical development, improvements in family and parental behavior, and gains in cognitive, social, and emotional development.

The program is also expected to initiate a process of institutional strengthening over the medium term that includes a comprehensive approach to care and management at the local level. This effort will be led by Paraguay’s Ministry of Public Health and Welfare.

The IDB loan for $27 million has a 25-year term, a four-year grace period, and an interest rate based on LIBOR. Local counterpart funding will total $3 million.