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A look at children and HIV on Children's day

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Images: Nigerian Children


january 5 2012


 Children’s Day, is a significant day set aside by the United Nations to honour children worldwide, celebrate them and promote their welfare. Indeed, Children’s Day is a unique moment to celebrate childhood. It is in this regard that the declaration of the Rights of the Child was signed by the United Nations.

That treaty was ratified by 191 member states, including Nigeria. The purpose includes to strengthen child’s rights and remove obstacles on the path of making the child realise his or her God-given potentials and destiny without let or hindrance.

That pre-supposes that children as gifts from God, ought not to suffer unnecessarily. They are supposed to enjoy life. Their lives and times ought to be, to a great extent, a stream of unending happiness, not misery or grief. However, today, across the world, including Nigeria, children have become engendered species, depraved of all manner of rights.

Many of them do not have access to basic education, health care and decent living. In developing nations, these problems have become more endemic as children are ravaged by poverty, malnutrition, among other challenges. Many children in many countries have become victims of child labour, witchcraft and millions have been either ravaged or orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

For example, a recent United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) report shows that an estimated 2.5 million children (under 15 years) are living with HIV pandemic. Also, a report by John Hopkins International Vaccine Centre based in the United States, claims that over 177,000 Nigerian children die every year and 20 of them every hour as a result of these health diseases, pneumonia, meningitis and diarrhoea. The World Health Organisation (WHO) latest statistics also show that these diseases account for 18, 2, and 20 percent respectively, of childhood mortality and morbidity in Nigeria. This is foreboding enough for the future of the children who are leaders of tomorrow. This bleak picture is a big challenge to governments at all levels. It means that achieving the much-talked about Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will require a drastic drop in the mortality arising from these diseases.

It is also sad, indeed, that in spite of the Child Rights Act and other legal frameworks designed to check child abuse in many countries, Nigeria inclusive, the implementation remains a daunting task as many children still suffer from different kinds of depravations. With current annual death rate of 100,000 infants in Nigeria, there is cause for concern. Beyond the long speeches and platitudes that often attend today’s event, we urge governments at all levels as well as parents and other institutions to attend to issues that inhibit the progress of the children. Result of a recent survey conducted by the Nigeria Education Data Survey (NEDS) reveals that a lot should be done in educating the children and alleviating the various diseases that hamper their growth.

According to the survey, a frightening 4.7m children of primary school age are still roaming the streets. The survey says that the states in the North are lagging far behind in the race to meet the target of the education component of the MDGs. Borno State is the worst hit, with about 72 percent of children of school age not in school.

This is unacceptable, considering the fact that literacy is an essential tool for national development. But, that should start with educating the child first. We urge governments at all levels to show more commitment in their policy initiatives, with great emphasis on issues that will promote the welfare of children. Parents should take their responsibilities to their children more seriously. Let this year’s Children’s Day be a thought –provoking occasion to look into all the key impediments against children and dismantle them. Policy enunciations are not enough. They should translate into practical realities. Only then can the dreams of the child – education, healthcare, food and other basic things of life can be realised.

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Updated 7 Years ago

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Tags:     Children and HIV AIDS     Children and Aids in Nigeria