BEIJING, June 8 (Xinhua) — A new public campaign was jointly launched by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Center for Women and Children’s Health of the National Health Commission (NHC) and other partners on Friday to give children the best start in life.

The campaign, known as “Parent with Purpose, Nurture their Future,” aims to build awareness on the importance of early childhood development (ECD), and to equip parents and caregivers with the knowledge, skills and tools to give their children the best start in life, by providing nurturing care during the first six years.

Early childhood, throughout the first six years of life, is an important time for shaping a child’s development and setting a solid foundation for their future.

As part of this initiative, a three-month digital and media campaign has started, which will provide practical advice for parents and caregivers on ECD. It will include interactive activities, such as a competition for parents to share their own experiences, and an online resource center providing information and tips. It will also be promoted in ECD centers, hospitals and health centers across China.

“Early childhood development is a holistic project that requires the joint efforts of all sectors of society,” said Xu Zongyu, director general of the National Center for Women and Children’s Health.

“We need to enable the public, especially parents, to understand the importance of early childhood development, to acquire knowledge and skills, and to take care of young children scientifically to promote their health and all-round development,” Xu said.

Figures from the NHC showed that in 2023, the infant mortality rate and mortality rate of children under 5 in China stood at 4.5 per 1,000 and 6.2 per 1,000, respectively, down 16.7 percent and 17.3 percent from 2020.

“Every child has the right to the best start in life,” UNICEF Representative to China Amakobe Sande said. “Early childhood, during the first six years of life, is a critical window of opportunity to shape the trajectory of a child’s development and build a firm foundation for their future through nurturing care. As these children thrive, their communities also grow and prosper, benefitting the whole of society.”

While the campaign is mainly targeted at parents and caregivers, UNICEF is also working with the private sector and government to advocate for policies and funding to support families. These include workplace policies, such as parental leave and flexible working, that make it easier for working parents to care for young children; and child benefits such as tax breaks and benefits for families with children.