Healthy Child Development Network (HCDN) came about with the aim to bridge the gap between quality service provision and access for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially those living in poverty.
In the course of her clinical practice, the founder of HCDN, Dr Shola Faniran, came across increasing numbers of children with neurodevelopmental disorders, whose parents though motivated, could not afford or access quality services for their children. This is particularly a big issue in Nigeria and low/middle income countries.
Guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and aligned to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), UNICEF is working to include children with disabilities in all facets of its programming. UNICEF has made considerable advancements advocating for and implementing inclusive programmes and services to ensure children with disabilities enjoy the same rights as their peers.
Nigeria is a signatory country to the United Nations convention on the right of the child. In Nigeria, disability services are provided mainly by the government, with several rehabilitation centres (some residential) available in major cities in the country. Services are also provided by non-governmental organizations, and private centres. Unfortunately, there is poor coordination of services, underfunding and poor access due to cost. According to the world poverty map, over 105 million people in Nigeria live in extreme poverty, and the numbers are increasing. Living in poverty profoundly impacts the full range of children’s rights, diminishing their life chances and ability to realize their potential.
Dr Shola started out addressing these inequities by partnering with service providers and other stakeholders in Nigeria to discuss the possibility of setting up regional Child development centres, using a Public-Private partnership model. She partnered with two NGO’s (Aisha Buhari foundation and Nika Project, USA) to provide training in use of technology to teach children with disability. Nika worked directly with over 20 schools in the Abuja and the surrounding area, in providing technology tools and training to over 1,000 teachers and support staff.
Following this, Dr Shola felt led to start an NGO to further bridge the gap and support families and children with neurodevelopmental disorders, and those who care for them. Hence, Healthy Child Development Network was born.