His Excellency, Dr Sayyari, Deputy Health Minister
Dr. Marandi, Director General of Academy of Medical Sciences
Dr Khatami, Head of Iranian Society of Paediatrics
Dr Zaali, Head of Iranian Medical Council
Distinguished guests from Iran’s Paediatric Society and the health sector from across the country,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the efforts you make to help the youngest citizens of this great country. It is my honour to be with you.
This morning I want to focus on our need to pay special attention to brain development during the first few years of a child’s life, starting from conception through to three to five years of age.
In this exceptional period, the child's brain produces 700 new neural connections every second – a pace never repeated again. These connections are the building blocks of a child’s future.
Sadly, global data shows that over 200 million children do not reach their full human potential, either because they live in poverty and receive poor health and nutrition services or because they do not receive adequate psychosocial care through an intimate bond with parents and caregivers.
These disadvantaged children will be more likely to perform poorly in school and subsequently have low incomes, high criminality, and provide poor care for their own children. As a result, their countries will have an estimated 20 per cent loss in adult productivity and failed human potential passed from one generation to the next.
Investing as much as we can in the first few years of a child’s life is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals and is also a vital piece of ‘The resistance economy’ introduced by the supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
A resistance economy is based on the principles of self-sufficiency and self-reliance. In my humble view, children’s brains are the most important source of wealth to create and sustainably accelerate Iran’s resistance economy. Investment that leads to healthy brain development of children and that helps them to become self-sufficient and self-productive members of their society is what I call a brilliant “brain-gain” investment.
Rapid brain growth is influenced by many factors, but includes proper health, nutrition, care and services, and is also influenced by his or her relationships with parents and caregivers as well as experiences and interactions with the environment. The investment we make in the first years of a child’s life can last forever. New scientific evidence suggests that health sectors around the world must expand their vision beyond the prevention and treatment of disease to include the promotion of nurturing care for young children.
Let me also say how overwhelmed I am by the amount of attention given to playing and spending time with children both in Persian literature and in Islamic teachings. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is very well known for his unique compassion and patience with children. I would like to finish with a beautiful and famous verse from renowned Iranian poet, Molana on the importance of playing with children in their own language. Molana wrote: “Chon ke baa koodak Saro Karat Fetaad –Ham Zabane koodaki bayad goshad.”