Kolkata: Underscoring the need for developing the mental health of children, health experts have urged parents, doctors, medical students and policymakers to join hands to improve the kids' cognitive capacity and help them become healthier citizens.
"It is high time to look into the mental and psychological development of a child so that they can face the world with dignity. It will ensure they become proper Indian citizens in future," Debasish Bhattacharya, Director of Health Services in West Bengal, said at a symposium here.
The event headlined “Promoting Early Childhood Development: from Systems to Caregivers”, was jointly organised by UNICEF, the Indian Academy of Paediatrics and an NGO Udbhaas-Nanritam on Saturday.
From his experience of being associated with medical education in the state, Bhattacharya said the parents and others in the society should take extra care to build the personality of the children so that they develop the proper attitude to excel in their chosen profession.
"This personality building must start at the very childhood. The children should be helped to develop good behaviour and attitudes which are lacking in the society these days," Bhattacharya said, adding the state government has been trying to develop community health at the grassroots level through health centres.
UNICEF, which works with the state government to train frontline health workers like Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) or Anganwadi workers to engage parents on early stimulation and children’s learning at home, organised the symposium to find out more ways to carry the policies of early childhood development to the grassroots level.
Kaninika Mitra, Health Specialist of UNICEF in the state, said it was a priority to help children grow into better human beings.
"The cognitive development of a child begins when a baby remains in the mother's womb and within three years of childbirth the baby's complete brain development takes place," she said.
Along with nutrition and healthcare, children need proper stimulation of the brain during this time.
"Only medicines and nutritions are not enough. The parents have to tell them stories from pictures and take the child outside and get him or her acquainted with the outside world. Children do not need expensive toys, rather very easily available objects like leaves, stones, flowers, clouds, stars and moon could be used to stimulate and develop their brain. Children's level of intelligence and how they will become a successful citizen of the country depend on the stimulation of the emotions," Mitra said. (UNI)