Human Development Programme
The Report of the Chancellor's Commission (November 1994) described a vision for 'Human Development' as an integral theme across Aga Khan University (AKU). The report used the United Nations Development Programme's definition of human development: 'Human development is the process by which individuals, families, social groups and populations progress towards achieving their potential level of health and well-being; it includes physical, biological, mental, social, emotional, economic and cultural components.'
The understanding of biological processes and the influences of social determinants throughout the life cycle is essential in order to identify the conditions required for optimal human development. Subsequently, operational research to improve access to knowledge and an equitable distribution of resources must follow in order to enhance conditions which support optimal human development. The breadth of this research work requires multi-disciplinary teams.
Aga Khan University Human Development Programme (AKU-HDP) explores the potential for influencing processes by which individuals, families, social groups and populations progress towards achieving their potential level of physical, mental, social and economic health and well being. The initial focus of this Programme is to enhance human development through Early Child Development (ECD).
Research has demonstrated multiple associations of health and behaviour in adolescents and adults with nutrition and social interaction in early childhood. Research has also shown the direct effects of a child's early sensory experiences on development of the brain, and its impact on learning ability, behaviour and physical and mental health in childhood and later stages of life. AKU-HDP through a community based ECD and parenting model intervention aims to improve the nutrition of mothers and children aged 0-8 years along with the social environment and caring practices of children.
The Programme also offers capacity building opportunities to professionals engaged in maternal and child care through education, training and modelling of effective service. Thus HDP seeks to promote ECD and inform policy.