Globally around 53 million young children have developmental disorders (DD), and 95% of these children live in low-and middle-income countries. Sub-Saharan African families with children with DD experience severe challenges. These experiences are potential threats to mental health, adding to their pre-existing increased vulnerability for anxiety and depression. Most children with DD in sub-Saharan African countries are never formally identified and diagnosed and receive no formal support.
In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing) and 4 (ensure inclusive and equitable quality education), there is an urgent need to develop and evaluate an integrated community-based care model that increases identification of children with DD, raises community awareness, and results in referral to community-based interventions promoting resilience, skills development, community inclusion and wellbeing for children and their caregivers.
The study aims to learn more about improving the wellbeing and mental health of children with developmental disorders and their caregivers. This includes developing and evaluating; i) a training package to raise community awareness and reduce stigma against children with DD, and ii) a new Community Informant Detection Tool (CIDT) that will support the identification of children with DD. The study will also co-develop a multi-sectoral integrated care model for children with DD and their families, considering health, education and wider community sectors.