Adverse childhood experiences in Republic of Moldova: stakeholders agree to conduct a national survey


On 19 April 2016, stakeholders from the health and social and child protection sectors, law enforcement bodies, civil society and organizations for victims of violence met to deliberate ending child maltreatment. The WHO Country Office in the Republic of Moldova, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, convened the meeting to discuss the implementation of a national survey on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to be conducted among Moldovan university students.

The meeting had 4 aims.

  • Present the European child maltreatment prevention action plan and discuss the problem of child maltreatment in Europe.
  • Present the situation analysis of child maltreatment prevention in the Republic of Moldova.
  • Present the results of the survey of ACEs among university students in Romania and discuss the methodology used.
  • Debate the next steps on how the survey on ACEs will be conducted in the Republic of Moldova and how the results might inform policy decisions for prevention.

Need for intersectoral collaboration

During the opening address, Mrs Rodica Scutelnic, Head of Department for Hospital and Emergency Health Care of the Ministry of Health, spoke of the commitment of the Government to child maltreatment prevention, the importance of early childhood development and the need for partnership with other sectors.

She said, "The ACE survey will not only define the size of the problem in the Republic of Moldova, but also provide an understanding of the root causes of child maltreatment by interviewing a sample of young people aged 18 to 24 years. The results will help to develop the preventive measures that will be incorporated into policy documents and to develop working guidance for the social and health professionals, and those from educational institutes."

Need for more comprehensive data

Mr Haris Hajrulahovic, WHO Representative to the Republic of Moldova, emphasized the renewed opportunities for health gains by embedding child maltreatment prevention within the Health 2020 policy framework for Europe and the Sustainable Development Goals.

"There is a need for more comprehensive data on child maltreatment in the Republic of Moldova and its affect throughout the life-course. Data from Europe show alarmingly high levels of maltreatment and the consequences of violence suffered in childhood manifest as higher rates of risk behaviours, such as substance abuse, being a victim or perpetrator of violence, smoking and self-harm," stressed Mr. Hajrulahovic.  

Sharing experience

Dr Dinesh Sethi, Programme Manager, Violence and Injury Prevention at WHO/Europe, presented "Investing in children: the European child maltreatment prevention action plan". He mentioned the burden of child maltreatment and the adverse outcomes though the life-course in Europe and the prevention opportunities in the Republic of Moldova. Dr Sethi emphasized that preventive action had to be taken, which requires intersectoral collaboration with the development of violence prevention action plans.

Professor Adriana Baban, Babes-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca, Romania), spoke about the ACE survey among university students in Romania. She described the methodology in detail and the implications of the findings. She emphasized that violence against children was brought about by risk factors linked to family and societal dysfunction.

A presentation on the current situation in the Republic of Moldova was followed by a lively and wide-ranging debate where stakeholders spoke about the importance of the survey and their commitment to utilizing the results. A policy dialogue will take place in 2017, when the results of the ACE survey will be presented.

WHO will provide support for this activity in the biennial collaborative agreement 2016–2017 between the Moldovan Ministry of Health and WHO/Europe.