Inter-ministerial agreement signed for early screening for development problems in children

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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A new screening aimed at identifying any intellectual or physical development problems in children including newborns up until 16 years of age will be introduced after an inter-ministerial agreement was signed.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Health Ministry, the Family Ministry, the Education Ministry and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabled Persons on Wednesday.

The screening will be conducted through the use of appropriate instruments under the administration of trained personnel, with the purpose being to determine whether an infant or toddler is suspected of having a disability and therefore in need of early intervention services.

The main aim of the agreement is to recognise the physical, intellectual and psychosocial challenges in children, as well as to improve education on the subject of screening. The collaboration agreement will lead to the creation of a national strategy to help identify the screening services for children – newborns up to the age of 16.

In a statement the government said that Aġenzija Appoġġ will be implementing the screening in collaboration with the various entities which are under the responsibility of other ministries.

Social Solidarity Minister Michael Falzon hailed the cooperation saying it is an important step in assisting children. He remarked that the screening was part of the government’s vision for holistic policies placing children at the centre of its policy.

Education Minister Owen Bonnici remarked that in the education sector, the government strives to ensure that each and every child is given the same opportunity to learn.

Parliamentary Secretary for persons with disability Silvio Parnis said that this is a clear sign that the government wishes to provide the best quality of life for people with disability. He added that the Operation Unit of Aġenzija Support, will begin screening children to find out from an early stage whether the child has any physical or intellectual difficulties, and which when once found, the child can be provided the necessary assistance.