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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

Friday, April 11, 2003 - The Ministry of Health is working towards enhancing its primary health care component as it relates to placing great prominence on children. So says Health Minister, Honourable Damian Greaves. Recently, the Ministry launched its pare-natal system with its main function of capturing data on children and monitoring the information which would assist health officials to make more appropriate intervention.

“And what about our nutritional services? About 12% of children born annually are classified as low birth weight. This statistic is extremely important as I have already illustrated the link between a child health status at birth and a child’s future. With 12% of babies being of low birth weight status, you may well understand levels of performance at primary schools. The issue with low birth weight relates quite significantly with the mother’s nutritional and health status. Thus through our nutritional counselling programme for pregnant women and mothers we are making interventions that will redound to the benefit of children and the future of this nation,” said Greaves.

Minister Greaves said that his department is also presently focussing on HIV/AIDS and its impact on unborn babies and young children. He believes that HIV/AIDS is a major developmental problem capable of affecting human resource capability. Given the prevalence of the epidemic, he says, government along with the general public can waste no time in finding the best means to deal with the issue.

Greaves also noted “The incidence among females has increased relative to males. In fact 71% of the females affected with the disease are of child bearing age with 25 to 29 age group most susceptible. Throughout our introduction of anti-retroviral drugs and our mother to child transmission programme we are mitigating the problem.”

Minister Greaves believes that there is much more that can be done in the area of primary health care as it relates to children and has reassured the nation that in the months ahead his ministry will bridge the gap which now exists within Saint Lucia’s health system.

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