SWAZILAND
 
 

Statement

by

Honorable Dr. Phetsile Dlamini
Minister of Health and Social Welfare of the Kingdom of Swaziland

at the
United Nations General Assembly
Special Session on Children

New York 
10 May 2002



Mr. President,

The Kingdom of Swaziland shares the pleasure of being part of this important gathering on a topic so vital to each of the nations of the world.

Despite the escalating challenges, a lot of effort has gone into making Swaziland a better place for all Swazi children.  The love for children is deeply entrenched in our culture because we know that a child is like a seed that carries the family history down the line.

Some achievements made in the Kingdom of Swaziland include:

. The development of a National programme of Action (NPA) for children for the period 1993 to 2000, through which a number of committees were formed to ensure implementation of children's issues and they include the National Committee for Children (NCC); the Child Rights Task Force as well as the Technical Working Group (TWG).

. The ratification of the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC) in 1995 put the impetus on the initiatives geared to protection of children as well as those that address issues affecting children.
The establishment of A Children's Unit in 2002 will further help in promoting and protecting the Rights of Children. Under this Unit a closer collaboration has been made with the law enforcement department in order to foster more protection of children at all times. Guidelines for management of cases relating to the abuse of children, maintenance claims and child protection networks have been developed through working together with the legal structures as well
as with the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Mr. President,

Education:

While Swaziland has not achieved the goal of "free primary education", an effort has been made for education to be more accessible and affordable by providing free textbooks to all primary school children. Government together with some NGOs have facilitated some bursary funding to assist needy children. However, the escalating numbers of needy children including orphans whose needs are not yet fully met has dwarfed this effort. Government and other partners are searching for more innovative ways to improve access to education including computer literacy.

The biggest challenge is the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The Kingdom has since introduced a school Health Programme, integrated the information on HIV/AIDS into the school Curriculum as well as encouraged the formation of Health Clubs in all schools to promote peer education. There has also been introduction of a "Child to Child" learning strategy in schools through which children are taught about the Convention of the Rights of a Child; prevention and treatment of childhood illnesses as well as life skills for self-protection from abuse and exploitation.

Health Care:

Government in collaboration with NGO's and other partners have contributed immensely towards the distribution of health services in the country. At least 80% of the communities in the country are within the 8 kilometer radius. The Expanded Immunization Programme is accessible to every child at no cost. This has contributed to
the decline in infant mortality rate. Neonatal tetanus is now rare is now in the final stages of certification of polio free Swaziland.

As a drive to further improve the health of the nation including children, the Government now fully subsidizes primary health care in all clinics. Also in partnership with other agencies Government is working tirelessly to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Child headed families that are on the increase in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic continue to pose a challenge.

Mr. President,

Judicial System:

In improving the juvenile justice system, a juvenile court system is now in place. Further training of officers in the law enforcement agencies has had a positive effect in handling cases that involve children. Community Protection Committees are currently being established so as to protect children even at grass root level.
Participation of children:

Children and youth have participated in the development of some national programmes such as the National Development Strategy. This has enhanced the formation of youth clubs/organizations working around certain issues like Poverty Reduction, HIV/AIDS, gender and recreational activities. Under the National Poverty Reduction Strategy, Government has programmes of encouraging youth entrepreneurs. NGO's and community based organizations have spear headed the way in this regard.

Some of our cities have Junior City Councilors led by their Junior Mayors. This shared responsibility is good for grooming the youth for leadership positions.

Mr. President,

Challenges:

A number of challenges still remain. These include poverty, orphans, vulnerable children and the general decline of the economy that is aggravated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

To address these, there is need to share resources so that the best interests of the child may be served at all times. It is for this reason that Swaziland is committed to promoting orphan care within the communities. This poses a challenge for Government and civic society to assist communities in coping with this extra challenge.

The issue of food security and nutrition for all children in Swaziland also remains a challenge. Natural disasters like drought continue to place an extra burden for which we appeal to the international community for assistance.

Conclusion:

I would like to conclude Mr. President by emphasizing that International cooperation in fulfilling our commonly desired goals has yielded positive results in the past and we believe it remains important. As such, we believe that for the children of he world to survive, the international community must engage in intense resource mobilization campaigns. We therefore appeal to this special session to make concrete proposals on how the additional resources can be mobilized, pooled and then equitably distributed to benefit all the millions of children in the developing countries particularly in the Southern African Region which is the epicenter of the HIV /AIDS pandemic.

Furthermore, the United Nations should not lose sight of the plight of children in those countries that are not represented in the United Nations. Although the Republic of China on Taiwan is committed to working with the international community for the well being of children in that country, their efforts are undermined by the fact that it is denied membership to the United Nations. This limits their contribution to the advancement of child welfare in the international community. The Kingdom of Swaziland strongly supports. and earnestly appeals to the international community to support Taiwan in its quest to participate in the work and activities of the United Nations designed to promote the rights and welfare of all children.

The Kingdom of Swaziland pledges her support for the draft declaration being proposed for this Special Session. We appeal for more support in providing resources in "creating a world fit for children". We reaffirm our commitment in ensuring the "best interest of the child".

Help us help our children.

Thank you.