Task force launched to tackle social ills in Region Six
By Royan Abrams
On the heels of another teen committing suicide in Berbice, the Ministry of Public Health has partnered with the Ministry of Social Protection and the Region Six Democratic Council to address several social ills facing the county.
Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton has made it clear that his ministry will not leave any stones unturned in addressing the various social ills in the region, specifically suicide.
The Public Health Minister said, “we cannot say whether or not the suicide rate has been dropped or not but we are not gonna leave any stones unturned and that’s why when any effort is offered to us we are willing and ready to come onboard.”
The Minister along with Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence met with Chairman of the RDC, David Armagon, teachers and other stakeholders on Thursday at the RDC boardroom to establish a task force to address the issues which also include child labour and teenage pregnancy.
The task force will also be making recommendations to deal with these issues on a long-term basis.
Earlier in the year there has been an increase in the amount of suicide cases in the country which resulted in an emergency meeting being held between the President, the Public Health Ministry, the Ministry of Social Protection, NGOs and other interested groups and stakeholders to curb the endemic.
However, it is because of reports which suggested that nothing much has been done to curb the situation, the task force was created. “This is not to say that we do not have programmes in place, I can tell you that shortly we will have what is known as world suicide awareness week and world suicide awareness day and from the Ministry of Public Health point of view we have a national programme that is going to address that and particularly here in region six” Minister Norton sought to clarify.
A number of televisions programmes, lectures, talks and candle light walks have been planned to assist in the suicide prevention effort in the region.
With regards to the issue of child labour, Minister Lawrence said the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was engaged on the matter and a consultant was sent to conduct a study here. She said that study was completed about a month ago and was submitted to the ILO. She added that on September 21, 2016, the ILO team will be in Guyana to launch a work programme which will address child labour.