Statement by Western Cape Health Minister Pierre Uys Commemorating Child Protection Week, 24 - 30 May 2004
The statement was issued today on the eve of World Child Protection Week starting on Monday and ending on Sunday
"Our health workers are specially trained to identify the violation of child protection legislation and to act accordingly. Our health workers are constantly on the lookout for even the most minor signs of possible child abuse. When children are identified as victims, the health worker will immediately start an investigation and inform the parents.
"When children are suspected of being an Aids victim, the parents are briefed and the necessary tests are recommended. In cases of sexual abuse or rape, anti retrovirals will be provided. Aftercare and counseling for both the victim and parents will be provided. Social workers are also informed as well as the police."
More than 43 400 children younger than 4 years died of HIV/Aids last year. In the Western Cape the health department has already succeeded in providing all infected mothers and newly born babies with anti retrovirals.
"Children who suffer burns are treated at our special burns unit at the Red Cross Children's Hospital at an annual cost of R40 million. Such children and their parents are counseled and where necessary, rehabilitation programmes are introduced. Burns are the biggest cause of injuries and deaths amongst children under 4 years. It will, however, need a special team effort from all of us to prevent burns and other unnecessary accidents if we want to save our children's lives."
More than 1 400 children die before they reach the age of one and another 5 000 die before the age of 14 as a result of preventable accidents in South Africa every year.
Helplines partly financed by the province, are also available. There is a Child Care Centre with a toll free number (0800 05555 55), there is Safeline (021- 638 1155), the Child Welfare Association in Cape Town (761 7130), a social services child and family service at Grabouw (859 2283) and at Paarl (862 6182), a child care centre at Worcester (032 - 347 0190) and Lambertsbaai (027 - 432 2639) and Rapcan, an organization in Cape Town (448 9034) which focuses on the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
"We are proud of what our health services are doing for our children. The protection and care of our children is, however, not just the function of the authorities. During Child Protection Week, which starts on Monday, we should all make an effort to care for our children with even greater commitment, love and responsibility than before. And this should not only be our aim during the coming week, but for as long as we have children. It is a duty, which we as parents have tasked ourselves. We may never fail in our duty," says Uys.
Enquiries: Chris Koole, 0827743462