Special Attention Must be Given to Women’s Issues – CMO


Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester, says special attention must be paid to women’s welfare during this period of financial crisis.
She insists that this must be so, because when a country faces financial difficulties, women tend to fare worse than men.
“They tend to face more job cuts, girls are generally the ones who are forced to stop attending school and so their potential for future income is reduced,” Dr. Campbell-Forrester argued.
She was speaking at a media sensitisation workshop on population and development issues, hosted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, on July 14.
The CMO pointed out that when financial resources to health systems are reduced, the probability of risks associated with child and maternal health, are increased. The CMO said young women, particularly adolescents, and their male counterparts, must come to understand that economics play a great role in providing for a child.
Turning to social determinants which impact health and development, Dr. Campbell-Forrester cited Jamaica’s vulnerability to exogenous shocks, pointing out that it is estimated that this current crisis could push 200 million people back into poverty.
She pointed to two particular initiatives that the Government has successfully undertaken to cushion the most vulnerable against these shocks – the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) and the National Health Fund (NHF). Dr. Campbell Forrester highlighted that the country’s poverty rate had declined from 18.7 per cent in 2000 to the current 9.9 per cent, through these programmes, which are components of the national poverty eradication programme.
“These along with the abolition of (hospital) user fees policy, put in place over a year ago, are geared at ensuring that the very poor can have access to affordable and quality health care, affordable medication and a social safety net. A number of persons have reaped many benefits so far, as a result of these initiatives,” she said.
Today’s function was held to focus on World Population Day, which was observed on July 11, with particular emphasis on sensitising the media to women’s health and welfare issues. A number of presentations were made at the one-day workshop, including: the significance of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for poverty reduction; population and development in Jamaica, with reference to the MDGs; the role of the media in population development; and the role of the media in human development.
In his World Population Day message posted on the UNFPA website, Executive Director of the UNFPA, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, called on all leaders to make the health and rights of women a political and development priority.
“Investing in women and girls will set the stage, not only for economic recovery, but also for long-term economic growth that reduces inequity and poverty. There is no smarter investment in troubled times,” he said.

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