Quality in Spotlight
The social protection of children will be improved, and the rights of the child will be protected. This conclusion was reached by the participants of a meeting devoted to cooperation with UNICEF. The high rank of government officials represented at the session shows the importance of the topics discussed, which are addressed in the UNICEF Country Program for 2016- 2020.
In addition to the Regional Director of UNICEF in Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, the event was attended by the Uzbek Deputy Prime Ministers Tanzila Narbaeva and Aziz Abduhakimov, Minister of Health Alisher Shadmanov, Minister of Public Education Sherzod Shermatov, Minister of Preschool Education Agrippina Shin, Minister of Employment and Labor Relations Sherzod Kudbiev.
HOW TO MAKE THE SYSTEM BEST IN THE REGION?
According to Deputy Prime Minister Aziz Abduhakimov, who oversees the government complex on social issues, a step towards this will be the creation of a single body responsible for the social protection system, social work and case management, combining social services and payments to prevent difficult life situations for families, children, and help them in case of crisis.
The government member outlined three tasks for the joint work of the government and UNICEF: expert support, the development of new programs and projects, and the revision of the action plan to maximize the impact of funds provided by UNICEF.
The Minister of Employment and Labor Relations Sherzod Kudbiev acknowledged the lack of an information database on socially vulnerable segments of the population, on their employment and social protection.
Today, 10% of the country’s GDP is directed to social security and payments. “It seems to be a lot of money, but addressing them leaves some questions,” Sherzod Kudbiev said.
As an example of large-scale public investments and resources in the future of children, Aziz Abduhakimov cited the creation of the Ministry of Preschool Education and the reform of this sphere.
The adopted program of action for the development of preschool education introduces positive changes in the situation: the private sector is developing, the prestige of the educator is raised.
Continuing the discussion on education, Sherzod Shermatov spoke about the reform of public education, stressing the course to improve the quality. One of the priorities he named was the increase in the status of teacher in society, the complete release of the teacher from undue burden, another priority is to boost earnings and ensure the social protection of educators.
Health Minister Alisher Shadmanov stated that in 2018 three times more funds were allocated from the state budget for the purchase of medicines than in 2017, twice as much for construction and repair works.
Speaking about working with UNICEF, the minister highlighted the support of people living with HIV; conducting the first national research in the field of nutrition; calculation of the real cost of perinatal services; improvement of sanitation in remote and small schools; increase the capacity of health workers to care for newborns.
DRAWBACKS ALSO IN ABUNDANCE
Sherzod Kudbiev said that the current procedure for the appointment and payment of social benefits through citizens’ self-government bodies is not effective enough. Numerous facts of granting benefits and material assistance not to those who really need them are revealed. It is proposed to develop a social protection strategy and institutional reform in this area to better support the vulnerable segments of the population, including children.
Alisher Shadmanov pointed out high child and maternal mortality, inadequate care for children with pneumonia and diarrhea. He also pointed to the need to develop information bases on maternity and childhood, immunization, noting the presence of unreliable information and the lack of objectivity in it. The development of mechanisms for emergency medical care, the establishment of disability in accordance with international standards and criteria and the early detection of disability.
Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council Dilshod Aripov singled out four systemic problems in the area of justice for children. First, there is no single system for the administration of criminal justice in relation to minors – the system of juvenile justice, which requires special laws, procedures, institutions, services, specialists who work with children in conflict with the law.
Second, alternative measures should be applied to juvenile offenders, including removal from the justice system, as well as alternative penalties and restorative justice approaches, such as mediation.
Third, we do not have probation services for children who supervise children released from places of deprivation of liberty, closed educational institutions, as well as children who have been given sentences other than imprisonment.
Fourth, juvenile victims and witnesses are not fully protected during the trial process. The legislation does not yet fix the restriction of the number of interrogations of minor victims and witnesses of crimes, prevention of their contacts with the accused and defendants. It is important to ensure interrogation in a more comfortable environment, access to various services and assistance to child victims and witnesses of crimes.
HOW TO FIGHT WITH SHORTCOMINGS?
The Ministry of Health is developing a concept for the development of healthcare for a period of 10 years. In this framework, medical services should be identified, their cost calculated and tariffs developed, so we will be ready for the transition to compulsory health insurance.
The representative of the Supreme Judicial Council reported on the preparation of a draft amendment to the Criminal and Criminal Procedural Codes for the implementation of international standards for the protection of children’s rights in the justice system, the establishment of three interrogation rooms for underage victims and witnesses of crimes at the preliminary investigation stage, for girls, and drawing up individual plans for working with them in specialized educational institutions.
The UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, welcomed the adoption by the Uzbek government of all the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child presented back in 2013, as well as specific measures envisaged in the national action program for their implementation. She also stressed the key importance of the available quality databases for analysis and decisionmaking at the state level, especially during the reform period. “The positive transformation and reforms implemented in the country require that we further our close cooperation,” she concluded.