Early Childhood Development is "priority investment" says Shakira

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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Shakira. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

When it comes to investing in early childhood development, there isn't another moment to lose, according to the international pop star and UN Goodwill Ambassador, Shakira.

Speaking at United Nations headquarters on Tuesday, Shakira urged world leaders to invest more in the health, security and development of their most vulnerable citizens, children under the age of five.

Matthew Wells reports.

More than 100 million children are missing school around the world, and roughly 160 million boys and girls aged under five, are suffering from arrested development due to neglect and a lack of proper nutrition, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

New scientific research shows that young brains damaged by toxic stress or abuse, can even change the body's DNA to inhibit natural growth.

Shakira said that Early Childhood Development, had become a major priority for her own foundation in her native Colombia, and there was no greater priority for the world, than alleviating the factors stunting young children's lives.

"It's a matter of putting children at the centre of the social, economic and political debate and their needs. Children's basic needs such as care, nutrition and stimulation need to be a priority, need to become a priority over any other human investment."

She and other experts speaking at a UNICEF press conference pointed out that damage to young brains is reversible, and relatively inexpensive, but the earlier it was tackled, the better.

Cost-benefit analysis shows that every dollar spent on early childhood, is repaid four or five-fold later in life, and in some cases the return on investment is even higher.

Matthew Wells, United Nations. 

Duration: 1’15″

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