Minister Botha Launches Road to Health Booklet
The Department of Health has issued the Road to Health Booklet (RtHB) to parents and guardians, which will assist health workers in monitoring the growth and development of a child's health. Today (31 May), Minister Theuns Botha launched the Road to Health Booklet at Mowbray Maternity Hospital where he issued new mothers with the RtHB, which will be used throughout the child's life.
The RtHB is currently used across the world by health staff to monitor and record the health of children. The aim of the booklet is to have an accurate record of a child's health and development and will assist in identifying those children who need extra care. Challenges health workers have faced in the past were that parents/guardians often did not understand the importance of retaining or presenting the card at health facilities.
"In the Western Cape, we have set our long-term goal on the creation of wellness, as opposed to the continuous construction of new facilities for patients. This means that rather than directing our budget towards more patients, we are setting our sights on the prevention and early detection of disease so that we can direct this money towards job opportunities and a standard of life where people can live the values of their choice."
"In this long-term vision, the Road to Health booklet is a really important tool. It will enable us to detect and treat disease at a very early stage, which will be less costly than the treatment of serious diseases at a later stage in a child's life. Personally I am very excited about this development. Now it is the parent or caregiver's responsibility to ensure that every baby's booklet is filled out," says Botha.
This booklet will be issued to women who give birth at state facilities and will be provided in a plastic sleeve to emphasise the importance of retaining and presenting the booklet at every visit. The new booklet will be used throughout the country and will contain information such as TB and HIV, nutrition, immunisation, developmental screening, weight and oral health. The RtBH will be issued free of charge to all new mothers and may not be sold.
Revision of the Road to Health Card (RtHC) is done in consultation with the maternal and child health units at national and provincial level and has been updated four times, with the last update being in 2002. New WHO growth standards and changes in the immunisation schedule necessitated revision of the current RtHC while simultaneously providing an opportunity for the addition of other health information. The RtHB is often the only ongoing link between health workers and a child's parent(s)/caregivers. The RtHB will promote these relationships, improve decisions and help to focus on those children needing extra care.
"Research has shown the importance of healthy early child development impact, and the impact thereof on society as a whole in later life. This is an opportunity for us to uplift the quality of our children's future," Minister Botha adds.
In 1993, the World Health Organization (WHO) undertook a comprehensive review of the uses and interpretation of anthropometric references. The review concluded that the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)/WHO growth reference did not adequately represent early childhood growth and that new growth curves were necessary. In response, the WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study (MGRS) was implemented between 1997 and 2003 to develop international growth standards for children below five years of age.