Assessing child development in rural African settings

Dr Gillian Lancaster, Mathematics and Statistics

Tuesday 14 December 2010, 0925-0950
Lecture Theatre 3, Management School Building

Although 80% of children with disabilities live in developing countries, there are few culturally appropriate developmental assessment tools available. Assessment of development for research purposes is done using tools developed for Western societies eg. the Griffith's Developmental Assessment, Denver II. These tools have been used to assess such things as the effect of malnutrition on development. Since most of these developmental tools are designed and validated in Western countries, they often include tasks and materials that may be completely alien to children from another culture.

We have developed a simple, validated and reliable method of monitoring child development in a rural African setting that is extremely useful for community health workers in checking that children are developing normally. Locally-derived questions were conceived in consultation with local paediatricians, research midwives, parents and villagers. Issues regarding pilot work, item selection and modification, creation of 'norms', validity and reliability are discussed. The Malawi Development Assessment Tool (MDAT) tests a range of skills including gross motor, fine motor, language and social skills.

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