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Doctors tipped on child abuse

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VICTORIA FALLS — Doctors have been urged to pay particular attention to the language used by children in describing body parts and their behaviour when handling cases of child abuse.

Report by Nduduzo Tshuma Staff Reporter

This was said by South African doctor Deidre Pretorius at a workshop for medical practitioners during the ongoing 3rd Wonca Africa Region Congress in the resort town yesterday.

She said many countries were embarrassed with the exact statistics on cases of child abuse and the ones given were not necessarily accurate.

Pretorius said according to the World Health Organisation, in 2001, about 40 million children were victims of child abuse.

“With the downward spiral of the global economy, we have an increase in cases of child abuse, it’s not poverty that causes child abuse, but the fluctuation of income and the socio-economic stresses that goes with that,” she said.

“In terms of our role as family physicians, one of your principles is that each contact with a patient is an opportunity for health education prevention of disease

and when we see a child, they do not come to you because they have been abused, but for this disease or the diarrhoea, but that is your chance to screen those children for abuse and prevent severe cases of child abuse.”

Pretorius said the problem was that most of the times when family physicians discovered cases of abuse, it would be too late.

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