Letter: Children and the race for governor

-A A +A
By The Staff

I am a member of the New Mexico Pediatric Society and I provide for the health of the children of Las Vegas. I am one of many pediatric colleagues from around the state who is concerned that the gubernatorial candidates address the issues that affect children and their families.

In July we submitted the following letter to both candidates. We have not yet heard a substantial reply. Again we ask them to address our concerns and we urge all New Mexicans to ask the candidates these same questions.

Dear  Ms. Denish and Ms. Martinez:

A child playing with mud pies is fun; a candidate slinging mud is not. It is time for the candidates for governor to speak to these issues:

As pediatricians who provide health care to the children of New Mexico, we demand that candidates address the issues facing children and their families.

The New Mexico Pediatric Society (the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics) helped develop the “Agenda for New Mexico’s children” in 2002. Now, in 2010, we propose a new agenda and expect that the candidates speak to these issues:

1. Access to health care for all children. How will the changes in the new federal health reform help children? How will Medicaid and SCHIP be continued, since they provide access to health care for so many children? How will the pediatric workforce be developed to provide enough pediatric primary care and pediatric specialists to meet the needs of new Mexico’s children?

2. Prevention and treatment of childhood chronic diseases. Childhood asthma, dental care and especially the epidemic of childhood obesity need to be addressed in order to prevent problems and save the lives of children now and in the future.

3. Behavioral health. Great shortcomings exist in the provision of behavioral health services for children and their families throughout New Mexico. Management of ADHD, depression and early detection and treatment of autism are only a few of the many serious behavioral issues that children and families face.

4. Early childhood. Investment in early childhood, beginning even before birth and followed with expanded newborn home visiting and a fully funded Pre-K program, will pay off by producing healthy adults who can contribute to their communities.

5. Youth. New Mexico needs healthy and well-education young people who will provide the well-educated workforce of the future. We must have an education system that supports that goal. Young people should be supported in their efforts to learn how to lead healthy lives — physically, emotionally and developmentally.

6. Health disparities. Many children in New Mexico fail to reach  their full health and developmental potential. Disparities in their health and well-being result from a complex interplay of multiple social and environmental determinants. We cannot fully address the other five issues that affect child health and well-being without beginning the difficult task of addressing the root causes of child health disparities.

It will take all of us — parents, pediatricians, local, state and federal government officials, non-governmental organizations and businessmen and women — to effect change. So, we pediatricians and others who care for children in New Mexico, ask the candidates and all of us: Who’s for kids, who’s just kidding?

Mary Schipper

Las Vegas