News in South Africa
The 2009/2010 Child gauge
Gauging our children’s future
‘Children are paying the price for SA’s failure to progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. SA is one of only 12 countries that have failed to reduce child mortality since 1990.’
This was the opening statement at the launch and symposium of the South African Child Gauge 2009/2010 that was held on Tuesday, 27 July 2010 in Cape Town. Kerry-Jane Coleman, Natalie Sessions and Erina Muir from OLIVE LEAF Foundation attended the launch of the 5th edition of the Child Gauge.
The 2009/2010 issue focuses on the theme 'Healthy children: From survival to optimal development'. “The themed essays highlight the current state of child health in South Africa; describe key challenges to address to improve child health outcomes; give examples of best practice; and make recommendations that could help realise children's rights to health, survival and optimal development. Other regular features include recent legislative developments affecting children's health, and a data section on children's access to social assistance, education, health care, housing and basic services”.
The key discussion points at the launch were:
1. Children’s rights to health – While a number of laws, policies and programmes give effect to these rights in SA, they have not yet led to improved health outcomes for children. The call is for all to commit to ensure that the laws effectively implemented.
2. The reality: Addressing the status of child health – We are failing our children: as 80% of child deaths in SA are under 5 years of age. The main causes in neonatal deaths are: HIV, diarrhoea and lower respiratory infections, while injury is the main cause of death amongst older children, especially boys. These are all rooted in poverty, lack of nutrition, sanitation and safe water, which impairs children’s immunity and increases their exposure to illness and injury.
3. Taking charge: Leadership, accountability, efficiency and collective responsibility – SA is still failing to provide quality health care to children. This will remain as long as inefficient management and inappropriate use of resources remains unchallenged. The call is for all to stand together to make a difference.
4. Quality services: Supporting child- and family-friendly services – The focus is to improve the quality of care for children. The child’s well-being which is determined by relationships is of paramount importance and does not need to require additional resources.
5. Human resources: Strengthening community-based health care – The focus is that Communities need to be empowered to participate in improving their own health. Community health workers can equip families with the knowledge and skills to prevent and treat childhood illness, and to recognise when to seek emergency care.
Erina, Zandie and KJ at a previous ECD event.
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