Title: Doing What's Right for Our Children
Category: Access To Children's Health Care
"Doing what's right for our children". That was the theme of the keynote address of the recent American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Chicago. The speaker was Miss Marian Wright Edelman, J.D., founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund. She was speaking on the need to provide more care for our children and especially medical care for our indigent children in the United States.
Quoting Miss Edelman, it is estimated that one-fifth of all the children in the United States fall below the poverty line and that will increase to one-fourth of all children by the year 2000. Because of the declining birth rates by the year 2000, there will be four million less 18 to 24 year olds entering the job market than there are now in the 80's. This is very important because this is the generation that will provide for all of us in our older age. For that reason if none other, it is important that we provide good prenatal care, immunizations, preventative health care and decent schooling. If we don't, who will take care of us? How will we be competitive with other countries if we don't provide adequately for our young throughout our country today.
Miss Edelman is developing a visitation program in seventy-five areas of the country to help politicians visit charity hospitals and children's hospitals to realize the everyday misery of some poor children's lives. She hopes that the politicians might feel the "rage" necessary to improve the lot of these children.
Miss Edelman feels that many of the 13 million poor children in the United States today could be helped very decisively through modest efforts as: 1. improved child care; 2. improved checkups; 3. Headstart; or 4. higher paid parents wages. Parents are losing private health insurance coverage faster than public programs are filling in for the care of their children. What can and should we do? There are no easy answers to these problems but obviously the needs are present and some plan of action is needed. The American Academy of Pediatrics is very concerned about medical care for indigent children and this is the number one item on their planning agenda. Next week I will outline their five year plan to reach these children and add some personal comments.