A message from Dr. Denise Chevannes, Executive Director

Ideally, having children requires the right skills set, significant financial resources and lots of love, patience and attention. As the National Family Planning Board – Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency (NFPB-SRHA) reflects on the significance of Child’s Month and as we prepare to launch activities to celebrate our 50th anniversary, we encourage proper, responsible parenting, which not only includes education, support and discipline for the children; but also proper family planning. We still stand behind our message of the 1970s and 80s that two is better than too many.

Too often, children are not given a fair chance for opportunities in life or are neglected as a result of the poor decisions of their parents who may have had too many children that they could not adequately support or care for physically, emotionally or financially. Improper parenting can sometimes lead to unfortunate outcomes for the children. By having smaller families, parents are better able to invest more time and resources in each child. With fewer siblings, children have the opportunity to stay in school longer and be more properly nourished than those with many siblings.

Another benefit of family planning is its ability to prevent too closely spaced and ill-timed pregnancies and births, which contribute to some of the world’s highest maternal and infant mortality rates. Infants of mothers who die as a result of giving birth also have greater health risks. In fact, the NFPB-SRHA has recently embarked on the health seeking component of a project to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in Jamaica. The objectives of the component are to: increase awareness of the benefits of seeking timely antenatal and postnatal care; increase utilization of antenatal clinical services for first time pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses that pose a danger for the mother and her new-born  during pregnancy; improve health outcomes for high-risk women including women in rural communities and infants; and increase community involvement and support for increased utilization of child and maternal health services;

This year’s theme for Child’s Month is “Secure our Future, Protect our Children”. This theme could not be more accurate in describing the direction that the country needs to go. It is heartbreaking to read that according to UNICEF, children accounted for 70% of sexual crimes reported to the police in 2004 and the Jamaica Injury Surveillance System at the Bustamante hospital documented 560 cases of abuse, neglect and unintentional injuries that same year. Over an eight year period, from 2007 to 2015, approximately 16,790 reports of child sexual abuse were recorded by the Office of Children Registry. We must acknowledge that this is a growing social problem that requires our urgent attention and keen multi-sectoral intervention and we at the NFPB-SRHA are committed to playing our part.

It cannot be said enough that our children are our future and we have the responsibility to ensure that their future is bright. As we commemorate Child’s Month and International Day of Families on May 15, let us reflect on how we have been raising our children and acknowledge our achievements, as well as our challenges. Let us Secure our Future and Protect our Children by responsibly planning for our families, from the pre-conception stage, and providing the necessary support and care for our children so that they can grow to fulfill all their desires in a safe, progressive Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

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