Although access to effective medical care for acutely sick children has improved globally, the number of children surviving but who may not be thriving due to disability, is increasing. This study aimed to understand the views of health professionals, educators and caregivers of pre-school children with disabilities in Malawi, Pakistan and Uganda regarding early identification, referral and support. Using applied thematic analysis, we identified themes relating to; limited ‘demand’ by caregivers for services; different local beliefs and community perceptions regarding the causes of childhood disability. Themes relating to ‘supply’ of services included inability to respond to community needs, and inadequate training among professionals for identification and referral. Stepwise, approaches provided to the families, community health worker and higher-level services could include training for community and primary care health workers on basic identification techniques and enhanced awareness for families and communities on the importance of early identification of children with disabilities.
- childhood disability
- early identification
- local beliefs
- neurodevelopmental disabilities