Health Ministry announces plan to improve children’s health

November 19, 2019 - 16:17

TEHRAN – The Ministry of Health has prepared a plan consisting of 16 programs for the children aged 5 or less to improve their health condition across the country, head of the children’s health department at the Ministry of Health has announced.

Ghazal Shariat-Panah made the remarks on the occasion of World Children’s Day which is celebrated on November 20 each year.

United Nations has established Universal Children’s Day in 1954, which is celebrated annually on November 20, to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children's welfare.

November 20 is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Sixteen healthcare programs for children 

“Healthcare programs for children under the age of five are conducted regularly even if they do not have a specific illness; by the end of the five-year period we have provided 16 care plans for each child, including vision and hearing screening, nutrition check, and so on,” Shariat-Panah explained.

‘In addition to child care, we offer programs for mothers and take special care of those children suffering from specific diseases,” she added.

Unfortunately, one of the problems is that after the vaccination of children aged 18 months, parents’ referring to the centers reduce, she lamented, calling on the parents not to stop referring to health centers so that their children's health to be monitored regularly.

Pointing to children's oral and dental health programs, she said that there is a care program in the service package of the Ministry for children, which includes fluoride therapy, fluoride varnish treatment.

Reports show that children’s dental and oral health is improved and the need for advanced medical interventions have declined sharply, according to Shariat-Panah.

Significant decrease in malnutrition and short stature 

Elsewhere in her remarks, she said that the average malnutrition in Iranian children has fallen, which is one of the most important issues in measuring children's health. 

She further highlighted that short stature in children also declined.

The department looks after the health of children under five, and since there are not non-communicable diseases in this age group, we have been focusing on communicable diseases treatment, namely, respiratory infections, common viral diseases and urinary tract infections, she also explained.

Obesity is rising among children

Regarding the incidence of obesity and overweight in the age group of five-year-olds, she stated that the obesity rate among children has been increasing over the past few years; with nutrition intervention programs being implemented, it is found out that most of the overweight is occurred after the age of five.

Observing the type of nutrition since a supplemental nutrition is added to a child's nutritional plan has been one of the approaches done by the Ministry to prevent childhood obesity, she also said.

“Breastfeeding has a profound effect on reducing the average childhood obesity, which is why we emphasize that child should only be breastfed by the end of six months. “

Also, since breast milk is a living, cellular organism, nothing replaces it, she said, adding, there are numerous articles showing that infants who are breastfed for the first six months of their life up to two years old have better IQ, faster brain cell growth and less earache.

They have a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood and the risk of leukemia may even reduce in these children, she emphasized.

20 breast milk banks to open 

The Ministry of Health plans to open 20 breast milk banks nationwide by the end of this year (March 19, 2020), she stated.

A human milk bank or breast milk bank is a service which collects, screens, processes, and dispenses by prescription human milk donated by nursing mothers who are not biologically related to the recipient infant. 

“So far, 5 breast milk banks have started operating in the cities of Tabriz, Shiraz, Yazd, Hamedan, and recently in Tehran. 

Breast milk bank in Tehran was opened two days ago at Akbarabadi hospital. 

Fortunately, mothers have been very good at donating milk so far, and more work needs to be done in this area,” Shariat-Panah explained.

The most common cancer among children

Regarding the incidence of cancer in children, she noted that currently the most common cancer between children is leukemia worldwide. 

Of course, there are other types of cancers among children but does not have high prevalence, she added.

Free of charge service for labor children

All working children whether Iranian or foreign nationals can access free health care, by visiting health centers in the country, Shariat-Panah also said.

“We also cooperate with the Ministry of Labor and municipalities to support labor children,” she added.

According to Shariat-Panah, most of the diseases reported among working children are infectious diseases, especially head lice, although malnutrition is even more prevalent in these children.


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