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  • Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has welcomed the publication of the study on Child Poverty and Disparities in Jamaica, saying it provides important information to policy makers and technocrats.
  • Mr. Spencer, who was the guest speaker at the launch of the study at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday (October 21), said it would help to determine the effectiveness of Government policies and the gaps that exist with regards to poverty among Jamaican children.
  • "The Ministry is a lead policy entity in realising the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is working toward developed country status in keeping with Vision 2030. It is imperative that we have at our disposal, robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that will inform the poverty agenda," he stated.

Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has welcomed the publication of the study on Child Poverty and Disparities in Jamaica, saying it provides important information to policy makers and technocrats.

Mr. Spencer, who was the guest speaker at the launch of the study at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday (October 21), said it would help to determine the effectiveness of Government policies and the gaps that exist with regards to poverty among Jamaican children.

“The Ministry is a lead policy entity in realising the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is working toward developed country status in keeping with Vision 2030. It is imperative that we have at our disposal, robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that will inform the poverty agenda,” he stated.

Led by Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics, Dr. Michael Witter, the report was compiled in collaboration with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and utilised data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica’s (STATIN) Survey of Living Conditions. It addresses the needs of children living in poor, vulnerable households, unsafe circumstances, and disadvantaged communities.

The duo, Jahzan, perform a moving dub poem dealing with the effects of poverty on children, at the launch of the study on Child Poverty and Disparities in Jamaica, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, in Kingston yesterday (October 21).

Commenting on the findings, the Health Minister stated that it found that the most severe area of deprivation of Jamaican children was in healthcare at nine per cent.
He pointed to the need for improvement in the areas of immunisation and prenatal care, but said that the next publication of the Survey of living Conditions should show the results of the abolition of user fees policy.

Other areas of deprivation that were measured by the study were sanitation, where there was one per cent deprivation, and education, of which no child was found to be deprived.

Dr. Witter, in his remarks, said it might not be possible to draw robust inferences from the results of the study based on the small sample of 5,813 children.

He has recommended that the study be repeated employing definitions of deprivation, which are more relevant to monitoring and promoting child development in Jamaica, including security, environment and family life.

Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer (right), and Deputy Representative of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in Jamaica, Nada Marasovic (centre), are greeted by Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Dr. Michael Witter, at the launch of the study on Child Poverty and Disparities in Jamaica, at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, in Kingston yesterday (October 21). Dr. Witter led the Jamaican study, which is part of the Global Study of Child Poverty and Disparities commissioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The Health Minister said he agreed fully with the recommendations, particularly with regards to security. “The matter of security is a major issue in Jamaica and could also impact the frequency of deprivation in health in the free movement of people, both for the health provider and for the patient, is restricted.

Other speakers at the launch included Olympic and World Champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser, who shared her experience as a child growing up in poverty in one of Kingston’s inner-city communities.
She explained how being deprived of food and security affected her, but credited her school’s breakfast programme for providing for children like her.

“I know how important it is to educate the Jamaican public and make them aware of how they can eradicate poverty especially with young children in rural areas and Jamaica on a whole, because I have lived it and I know that children are the future for Jamaica,” she said.

The report on Jamaica is part of global study commissioned and guided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in some 40 countries. The aim is to influence the economic and social policies that affect resource allocations, and to make children a priority in national programmes by addressing the poverty of families raising children.

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