Ramsammy publicly endorses `Say Yes for Children’ campaign
Guyana Chronicle
September 14, 2001

HEALTH Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy gave the assurance Wednesday that the interests of children will be on the front burner at his Ministry.

It would be part of the commitment to the ‘Say Yes For Children’ campaign and, in the process, the relevant bodies would have to recommit themselves and devise new ways of implementing programmes.

“As we reiterate our commitment to ‘Say Yes For Children’, we have to reflect on our actions in other areas, because everything we do affects our children,” the Minister remarked, while publicly endorsing the drive at the Ministry of Health, Brickdam, Georgetown.

Minister Ramsammy said, with the surge of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a mother to child transmission programme will commence next month, with assistance from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to provide pre and post counselling.

He announced that, as soon as that process gets under way, continuous treatment and care for mothers infected with the virus will also start, so that they can take care of their children.

Ramsammy said he is discussing, as well, the idea of introducing career guidance for children from January next year.

“We believe, if our children know what these programmes are, whenever there are adults (who) don’t live up to their responsibility, maybe the children can remind them of their responsibility,” he said.

The Minister suggested going into schools and explaining the benefits, so that, in case the parents are not taking advantage, the children who know can encourage their mothers and fathers to access the programmes on their behalf.

Ramsammy said Guyana’s health care services have improved but need to be accelerated in order to catch up with and exceed some other countries.

“We need to ensure that our indicators, such as maternal (and) infant mortality, are improved at an accelerated pace.

“But we need to do other things, whilst our maternal child health programme must be enhanced. We can’t forget our children…we have to understand that our commitment has to continue through adolescent years. We have, very often, neglected that,” he pointed out.

Ramsammy said the Health Ministry ‘Say No to Drugs’ project is very weak and more attention must be paid to it.

“What’s the use of paying attention to the child when he or she is a baby and then forget the other years?” he asked.

Ramsammy said the adolescent health programme needs to be given prominence in terms of the overall plan.

“Perhaps our most important job at the Ministry of Health is advocacy on behalf of the child. Because we’ve got to ensure that all these things we do tend to serve the overall purpose of the child.