Health and Nutrition: Zero Tolerance Initiative
National Commitment to “Zero Tolerance”
In the framework of the country’s commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and Objectives by the year 2015, in September 2005 the Dominican Ministry of Health and Social Assistance (SESPAS) embarked on a national campaign of “zero tolerance” for diseases and deaths as a result of preventable health problems.
This initiative was preceded by the success of the National Campaign for the Reduction of Infant and Maternal Mortality between 1997 and 2000, in which civil society and government actors joined forces and achieved a major reduction in both these indicators during this timeframe. As it did during the previous drive, UNICEF is supporting the efforts of the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance in achieving the objectives of this current national campaign.
The aims of the Campaign and Commitment for ZERO TOLERANCE are:
1. To mobilise national public awareness on the need and potential for changing the health situation, with an emphasis on health promotion, prevention and control of the priority health problems among the sectors of the population with the greatest needs.
2. To combine efforts, skills and state resources with those of civil society and non-profit organisations for drawing up joint plans, strategies and carrying out interventions aimed at strengthening the effectiveness and the resulting impact on public health, with a special emphasis on the most impoverished sectors of society.
3. To ensure that these interventions are monitored, through social scrutiny, for the improved effectiveness of interventions in tackling the most urgent health problems.
4. To establish a basis for developing a collective health sub-system as part of a modern and effective national health system.
According to SESPAS officials, “Zero Tolerance” does not mean that there will be no cases of disease or deaths, but it means that all health system workers are committed to developing actions that go along with a zero tolerance approach in the face of:
• Preventable cases of maternal mortality and deaths of children under the age of five.
• Diseases and deaths that are preventable in the context of the national immunisation scheme.
• Cases of tuberculosis.
• Cases of human rabies.
• Deaths from malaria and outbreaks of malaria in priority populations or communities around sugarcane growing areas.
• Deaths as a result of dengue fever and
• Preventable vertical HIV transmission.
The strategies that set out to achieve these objectives are aimed at increasing the quality of care, ensuring the availability of vaccines and medicines in the whole national health system and strengthening epidemiological vigilance and social participation in planning, administration, monitoring and evaluation of interventions.
UNICEF’s commitment to this national campaign takes the form of advocating and promoting increased social spending and participation in dialogue about public health policies that guarantee all children’s rights to health in a sustainable manner. In addition, this is accompanied by promotion, support and protection programmes for breastfeeding, safe maternity,reduction of vertical HIV/AIDS transmission, universal immunisation coverage, a strategy for integrated maternal, child and youth health actions and the reduction of micro-nutritional deficiencies.
Minister of Public Health pledges to work on the issue of underage pregnancies and on increasing breastfeeding rates.