Speaking at the inaugural “Prosperity for Children” award ceremony, President Juan Manuel Santos highlighted the investments made by his administration to improve Colombia’s child services.
According to the president, public funding for programs directed toward children up to the age of five during his term of office will reach $4 billion next year.
Santos, who said initiatives enacted during his presidency have been “ambitious, necessary and pressing”, used the occasion to announce a new “From Zero to Always” program, which aims to provide “integral attention” to 1 million children over the course of 2014.
The president emphasized the gains his administration has made since taking office in 2011, including a reported 95% vaccination rate, the highest in 20 years, and unspecified “integral” services the government is currently affording 850,000 children.
“Together,” he said, “we have made ourselves responsible for converting the rights of children from paper to reality, because that is true prosperity for infants.”
The speech formed part of a high-profile push to address the circumstances facing children in Colombia, many of whom become victims of armed conflict, malnutrition or human trafficking.
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Some statistics, including those included in a recent United States Department of Labor report, show that progress is being made, while social workers continue to stress a lack of adequate access to health, education and security services in much of the country.
One worker with Save the Children Colombia, an international non-profit, told Colombia Reports that “substantive changes” are needed to truly address the “crises” afflicting children in Colombia.
“There are effective solutions that can and should be focused specifically on children,” said the worker, who asked not to be named because her organization does not make political commentaries. “But the problems you see with kids in this country are part of bigger problems in Colombian society.”
- Interview with Save the Children Colombia worker
- Presidential Press Release
- Save the Children 2013 Press Releases
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