Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, says the new Child Health and Development Passport (CHDP), will enable Jamaica to further improve its infant and child mortality rates, in keeping with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the year 2015.
Speaking at the official launch of the CHDP, today (August 18), at the St. Catherine Health Department, Mr. Spencer said the health passports were implemented as part of the thrust to improve the health and development of Jamaica’s children.
He said it is mandatory that as of September 1, all newborn infants must be presented with a copy of the CHDP and by August 31 next year, approximately 45,000 infants are expected to possess the essential booklet.
Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Dr. Maureen Samms Vaughan (right), outlines the contents of the new Child Health and Development Passport (CHDP) to Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer during the launch of the CHDP at the St. Catherine Health Department, today (August 18).
“This (health passport) was in response to the need to further improve the health of our children and meet our obligations under the MDGs to reduce infant mortality and child mortality rates by two thirds by the year 2015,” the Minister pointed out.
Mr. Spencer said already, the country has made significant strides in this regard, with the reduction of the infant mortality rate from 26 per 1,000 live births to 21 per 1,000 and child mortality rate at 25 per 1,000 live births from 32 per 1,000.
“This take home document is intended to keep a comprehensive record of our children from birth up to 17 years. It will also contain immunisation records, which every child must have, and the immunisation card as we know it will be eventually phased out,” he noted.
He said that older children, those born before September 1, 2010, will continue to use the existing immunisation cards, as they will not be replaced by the passport.
Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer addresses the audience during the launch of the Child Health and Development Passport (CHDP), at the St. Catherine Health Department, today (August 18).
The passport will be used to capture information, so that parents, health care workers and teachers will be able to monitor the child’s growth and development to ensure that he or she is developing at a normal rate, informed the Minister.
“We developed this passport so that we can better be able to track a child’s development in a comprehensive way and to take corrective action at an early stage if the need should arise,” he added.
He further said the document incorporates the new World Health Organisation’s (WHO) growth chart for children, which is a better measure of how children should grow, based on standard populations from around the world.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester, said the CHDP is not to be taken lightly and implored parents to “guard the new passports with their lives.”
“This is a very important document that you need to put up carefully and to protect,” she implored.
Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Dr. Maureen Samms Vaughan, said the health passport promises to be very beneficial to the well-being of children in many regards, including empowering parents to promote the health, nutrition and development of their children.
“The passport has sections that ask parents questions about their children’s health and development before they attend the child clinics, so parents will be more actively involved in thinking about this visit that’s coming up,” she noted.
She said the passport also contains important parenting tips to guide parents throughout the child’s life.
“Children will be better cared for by virtue of all the partners who work with children having accurate information readily available to them,” Dr. Samms Vaughan said.
The project is being carried out in collaboration with the Early Childhood Commission in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.