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World Health Day 2003 - "Healthy Environment for Children"

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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

Friday, April 04, 2003 – As Saint Lucia joins the rest of the world in observing World Health Day on April 07, 2003, under the theme “Healthy Environment for Children,” Minister for Health, Human Services and Family Affairs, Honourable Damian Greaves believes that creating a healthy environment for children is the responsibility of every sector of society. In an address to mark the occasion, Mr. Greaves explained that as a country “we must find the courage to work together, drawing on the resources of each agency to accomplish our collective goals. Our success however will not be limited to our ability to address each risk separately. If we act together we will be providing solutions to the many health issues and environmental concerns that impact negatively on our children. Together we can shape the future of life for our children.”

Minister Greaves lamented though that children in the Saint Lucian society are today confronted with a myriad of problems and challenges ranging from lawlessness to stringent parental guidance; crimes and incidents of non-acceptable deviant behaviour, pressures to adhere to social and moral values; and media influences to cultural differentiation.

Government, Minister Greaves added is seeking to continue to implement programmes that will ensure that the young are protected from the scourge of environmental degradation. This year having being declared as the “Year of The Child” will see a programme of activities which will take some of these environmental issues into account.
The Ministry of Health, Human Services and Family Affairs is spearheading the first part of a process to guarantee the growth and development of healthy children born to the Saint Lucian society. “As a matter of policy we vigorously pursue our goals through the provision of services at the primary health care level to encourage every pregnant woman to benefit from prenatal care as early as the first trimester of her pregnancy. Postnatal care and child health clinics are regular features of the health system.”

According to the Health Minister these clinics are designed to monitor the development of infants and to provide them with the necessary vaccines that will protect them from infectious diseases such as polio and rubella. Just recently, the Minister Greaves noted, his Ministry through the AIDS Unit resumed the provision of antiretroviral drugs, free of charge, to HIV positive women in an effort to protect the unborn child from contracting HIV. Currently, we are reviewing the Public Health Legislation and pretty soon our laws will provide for the changes that are required in accordance with the demands of modern society as it is also intended to address a variety of minimum standards. Some of these standards will reflect new stipulations; for example, protection of our children with respect to smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke,” Minister Greaves ended.

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