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Minister of Health, Horace Dalley, has emphasized that a concerted effort must be made to remove children from the nation’s streets, as far too many were making the streets their home.
Removing these street children, he further stressed, could not remain the sole responsibility of the state and a few Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
The Minister was speaking at the presentation luncheon for the 2006 Essay and Poster Competition awards, hosted by the National Child Month Committee (NCMC) at the Knutsford Court Hotel, Kingston, recently.
“We really need to come together now and make another push to save our children on the streets. I am committing myself to helping the Child Development Agency (CDA) and all the players in the health field, particularly those involved with children, to improve the situation,” Mr. Dalley said.
The Minister also pointed out that far too many children were still being mistreated by their parents. This, he said, was borne out in the high incidence of what he called “unfortunate accidents”.
He pointed out that medical personnel had brought to his attention that there was a high incidence of burn accidents. “We must be leading in this part of the world in how many of our people are burnt, especially with acid,” he noted.
“While parenting is one of the hardest things I have had to do in this life, I am inviting Jamaicans to come together, to make sure that we give the protection that is needed for the future of our country. our children,” Mr. Dalley urged.
The Health Minister praised the work of the CDA, describing it as one of the “sparks” in the Ministry. He also cited cases where he had to work closely with the Agency in his previous portfolio as Minister of Labour and Social Security.
“From time to time, we have had to work with some difficult cases, such as trafficking in children and the elimination of the worst form of child labour,” he said, adding that there was still more work to be done in some areas to protect the nation’s childrenHigh on the Minister’s agenda is placing more wards of the state into foster care, which he said, offered children a better environment. “Children do better in a loving and kind environment,” he said.
The Minister congratulated the 21 students who received awards and urged schools to spend more time using competitions to stimulate writing, reading and artwork among the nation’s children.