Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, presents Minister of Health, Donville Inniss with a copy of the new child health booklet.

Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, presents Minister of Health, Donville Inniss with a copy of the new child health booklet.

The “Green card”, which once recorded particulars of the baby such as birth, immunisation, basic weight curve and a few developmental milestones, has been replaced by a booklet, which will be given to new parents from this year.

At a training seminar held today at the headquarters of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), that marked the introduction of the new child health booklet, Minister of Health, Donville Inniss noted that the “Green Card” had proved useful having “been one of the official documents to get registered and to enter school” but needed improvement and therefore was revised.

He acknowledged that many changes had taken place over the last 25 years, and internationally the monitoring of children’s development had been upgraded. And, he said: “As more vaccines have become available and are being given to children the schedule for vaccination has changed and it is believed that the record of each child should be kept and updated as the child grows. In addition, there should be some type of educational component for the parent as well.”

While stating that international growth charts developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), had moved countries to monitor the growth of children with these techniques, Mr. Inniss said: “The old measurement of weight for age is no longer the benchmark, instead several other measurements are being taken to give a better picture of how a child is developing. For example, the weight for length/height is now in use. Charts for boys and girls are now available instead of a single chart and in this way no child is disadvantaged when monitoring of development is done.” 

Meanwhile, in commending Barbados’ efforts at developing the booklet, PAHO/WHO Representative Dr. Gina Watson, said the orientation workshops to train health professionals in the use of child health records would “contribute to informing the on-going process which PAHO was undertaking in the Eastern Caribbean”.

Dr. Watson indicated that her agency was looking forward to “the lessons learnt by Barbados and the Ministry of Health being shared with other Ministers and counterparts in order to improve and help them also to advance in this exercise.”

She said that “the challenge in the utilisation of the booklet for every child’s visit was to ensure that each polyclinic, each facility would also, during services, use this instrument together with the hospital, in public services, and very importantly also in the private clinics. We hope that this would be a way also of strengthening the comprehensive care and the primary health care services in the Ministry.”

The new child health booklet has come at an opportune time since the Health Ministry has introduced a new vaccine (the pneumococcal) into its regular infant immunisation schedule and simultaneously changed the basic schedule to bring it in line with international standards.

Along with the usual records of immunisation a child receives, the booklet also provides information on foods for the child and at what age to introduce specific items. It also gives data on teething and dental health, as well as a set of developmental milestones that parents can use to assess what their child should be doing at specific ages. Charts to plot the weight, height/length and head circumference are also provided in the booklet so that health professionals can map the steady progress of each child individually.

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