Child-friendly space opens at Ewarton Health Centre in St Catherine
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The St Catherine-based Ewarton Health Centre, through a multi-partnership, is now operating a child-friendly space, which is equipped to serve the mental health needs of young people, particularly those who experience trauma.
This results from a collaboration among the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Government’s initiative – Child Protection Compact (CPC), and the Government of the United States (US).
The facility is projected to strengthen the efforts to prosecute and convict child traffickers, and to work with civil society to identify victims of child trafficking, as well as providing trauma-informed care for child victims and to prevent child trafficking in all its forms.
Speaking at the official opening of the space on November 15, portfolio Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, said it was “quite appropriate” to establish the $3.3-million centre in the “context of public health, and the protection of our children”.
“The trauma and impact that human trafficking and abuse, substance abuse and neglect have on our young people, I applaud the fact that we are working together as a team. It is important for us to see an experience like this as a positive model that we should emulate, promote and expand,” Minister Tufton told the audience.
The renovated section replaces the area that was assigned at the Linstead Health Centre, which afforded limited space and privacy to young clients and their families. It is expected that the mental health team will now be able to schedule an additional number of appointments, thus helping more young people to access therapy and tools in support of their mental wellness.
Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to Jamaica N Nick Perry, said the opening of “this beautiful” new space reflects “clear proof of the value and the benefits that come from our relationship, that strong bilateral partnership between the United States and Jamaica”.
For his part, Deputy Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Mohammad Mohiuddin, said the centre is a “step in the right direction” because a safe and comforting space has been created for children and their families.
“Mental health concerns are real for Jamaican children and adolescents, and ensuring easier access to services is critical, especially after the pandemic. UNICEF believes that improving the quality of services and making these services more accessible to those who need it the most, will go a far way,” he said.