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Street Children Back in Focus
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Street Children Back in Focus

The Health Ministry recently warned that the risk of HIV development is 40-fold higher in street children, but due to lack of facilities it cannot check its spread. It says it can only identify those infected by the virus by screening them.
Following the ministry’s announcement, Dr. Roozbeh Kordooni, deputy minister of labor, cooperatives and social welfare said, “According to paragraph 5 of Article 6 of the Social Protection of Street Children Council, the Health Ministry is committed to meet basic healthcare needs of street children as well as their families, and provide physicians and nurses at care centers for street children,” ISNA reported.
In June 2014, Health Minister Hassan Hashemi had said the ministry would pay 95% of the medical costs in state-run hospitals for street children and their families. He also said specific university-affiliated hospitals would provide them free basic healthcare services.
Reiterating that the state of street children is unacceptable, Kordooni however said at a recent meeting with his counterpart in the Health Ministry, important decisions were taken to improve their healthcare. The Health Ministry’s plenipotentiary representative to the council was introduced and instructed to ensure full cooperation to the council by the ministry’s offices dealing with issues of street children.
“The current plight of the children is a result of our negligence in the past,” he noted.
The council for street children’s protection was established in 2002, but did not function under the previous government’s tenure (2005-2013). During the period, even the official media outlets were prone to denying the very existence of street children, he pointed out.
According to the Fararu News website, the previous government’s minister of cooperatives in an interview with the Persian language newspaper ‘Shargh’ had categorically denied the existence of street children.

 Negligence
Obviously, the situation today stems from past inaction, putting heavy burden on the incumbent ministries of health and cooperatives, Kordooni said.
On measures taken by the government, he said, “We reached mutual understanding through meetings with all executive organizations involved in addressing the issue of social protection of street children.”
The official also said at least 25% of the children’s cost of education is paid to charities that volunteer to teach street children. For children below the age of 10, clothing, stationery and books are provided.
There are about 15,000-16,000 street children in the country today, estimates say, including addicts, labor children and runaway kids, and some Afghan children.
Kordooni said “just as social issues do not appear overnight, similarly they will not disappear overnight; the problem of street children will not be resolved immediately and will take time.”
For example, Brazil which implemented one of the most effective programs was successful in reducing the number of street children by 12% during a period of 10 years. 

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