Afshan Khan, the UN Under-Secretary and leader of the Global Movement for Nutrition, concluded her visit to El Salvador with high praise for the country’s commitment to early childhood development and sustainable nutrition. During her stay, Khan had the opportunity to witness firsthand the comprehensive initiatives undertaken by the government, particularly the First Lady, Gabriela de Bukele, in shaping a holistic child development program.
Khan remarked, “The program led by First Lady Gabriela de Bukele is one of the best child development programs I have ever seen. It has a clear focus on addressing the diverse needs of different age groups and combines maternal care with the ‘Amor Convertido en Alimento’ (Love Turned into Food) law and ‘Crecer Juntos’ (Grow Together) initiatives. These elements are essential for an ideal early childhood development program.”
El Salvador’s commitment to holistic nutrition and early childhood development extends beyond rhetoric, as Khan observed that the country is among the few that comprehensively integrates early childhood into this vital agenda. She emphasized the significance of their approach and the creation of a roadmap for sustainable food systems, which involves all sectors of society.
“The roadmap for their food system is one of the few that places such a strong emphasis on early childhood and nutrition. It serves as a commendable model. Moreover, the program’s focus on utilizing indigenous and local foods and revalorizing them within communities is of utmost importance,” Khan added.
In addition to acknowledging El Salvador’s strides in early childhood development and nutrition, Khan highlighted the transformation of the public healthcare system. This transformation includes the establishment of lactation rooms and prenatal sessions as part of the ‘Nacer con Cariño’ (Born with Love) law, aimed at engaging both parents in the care and nurturing of their children.
Khan stated, “Lactation rooms are crucial and represent an opportunity for women to provide the best gift of love to their children – breast milk, which safeguards their health and fosters love and care. When we assess the healthcare system, the capacity to conduct prenatal sessions involving both fathers and mothers is pivotal. It allows parents to actively participate in the caregiving and nurturing of their children.”
El Salvador’s commitment to early childhood development and sustainable nutrition, as recognized by Afshan Khan, sets a commendable example for nations worldwide. The combination of targeted programs, comprehensive nutrition strategies, and healthcare system enhancements underscores the nation’s dedication to securing a brighter future for its youngest citizens.