Parenting for Lifelong Health

Parenting for Lifelong Health – Be inspired

In a nutshell

Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) is an initiative focused on the development and testing of affordable parenting programmes to prevent violence for low-resource settings in South Africa. PLH is made up four programmes, each for a specific age group:

  • PLH for Babies and Toddlers for children aged 0-23 months (two programmes are included here, one for pregnant women and newborns, and another for toddlers)
  • PLH for Young Children for children aged 2-9 years old
  • PLH for Adolescents for children aged 10-17 years old

What we do

The aim of PLH is to develop, test and widely disseminate a suite of parenting programmes for low-resource settings that is affordable, not for profit, and based on rigorous evidence. This suite of programmes will primarily be directed at preventing child maltreatment and involvement in other forms of violence, such as youth and intimate partner violence. Preventing child maltreatment and later violence would also result in important physical and mental health and socio-occupational benefits during the whole of a child's life-course.

PLH is led by WHO’s Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability and UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme, in conjunction with the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and the University of Reading, Bangor University, and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

For more information, visit

How we do it

The development of the PLH programmes follows well-established procedures for developing prevention programmes. Initial programme development and testing – currently under way – is taking place in South Africa, Lesotho and the Philippines. If the programmes are shown to be effective in preliminary outcome evaluations, we will further adapt, implement, test, and refine the programmes in an additional four or five countries.

South Africa will thus function as an incubator to produce fledgling programmes than will then be further developed and tested in other low- and middle-income countries around the world. The programmes will be underpinned by a shared approach and a set of common principles, explained in a manual written in language accessible to non-specialists. This project is based on universal core principles found in evidence-based parenting programmes from around the world and will draw on the experience of developing such programmes in different cultural groups, and in other low- and middle-income countries.

What we have achieved

Different programmes are in different states of development:

  • Thula Sana is an attachment-based programme for pregnant women and newborns, and has evidence of effectiveness from one randomised controlled trial
  • Book-sharing is a cognitive stimulation programme that also has evidence from one randomised controlled trial, and is being tested in another in Lesotho
  • PLH for parents of children aged 2-9 (known as Sinovuyo 2-9 in South Africa) has been tested in a small-scale randomised controlled trial that demonstrated improvements in positive parenting. It is also being tested in a large-scale randomised controlled trial, and results from that will be available in 2016.  It is also being adapted for testing in the Philippines and Western Kenya.
  • PLH for parents and teens aged 10-17 (known as Sinovuyo Teen in South Africa) has promising evidence from two non-randomised studies, and is being tested in a randomised controlled trial in the Eastern Cape Province.  Results will be available in 2017.

What we have learned

Positive parenting techniques that have been shown to be effective in high income countries are enthusiastically embraced by parents in South Africa.  Programmes such as these are effective in promoting attachment, child cognitive development, and positive parenting.

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