Anambra stakeholders decry COVID-19 effects on 1.6b children, seek better deal
Stakeholders have lamented the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on 1.6 billion children globally. They, therefore, called for improved attention on health, education and the economy to better the lot of the kids.
During an event to commemorate this year’s Children Day with the theme: “Effects of COVID-19 on the Total Well-being of Children, the way Forward” at Ekwueme Square, Awka, Anambra State, Speaker of the Anambra Children’s Parliament (Seventh Session) Assembly, Faustina-Mary Okoye, disclosed that some 1.6 billion children were restricted by the virus educationally.
She pointed out that health-wise, children remained the most vulnerable owing to weak systems, exposing the entire Sub-Saharan Africa in the process.
Okoye continued: “Due to the social constraints imposed by Covid-19, young children are the victims of psychological imbalances such as anxiety, depression and sleep disorders.
“Socio-economically, children are constant victims of physical and sexual abuse without any substantive aid. The rate of street children has also been on the increase.
“A hampered economy consequent on COVID-19 affects children indirectly, as many of them live far below the universal poverty level at $2 per day.
On the way out, the Speaker stressed the need for provision of meals for vulnerable children to keep them in school and reduce the effects of hunger in line with existing educational structures.
According to her, the authorities should prioritise education for every child, especially those in rural areas and inaccessible terrains in addition to introduction of e-learning and other facilities with highly subsidised medium
Okoye called on government to implement the modern guidelines on management of paediatrics patients, as well as improve health architecture in the state.
She appealed to the state government to mitigate effects of the pandemic besides appreciating the understanding of children, their strength and positive disposition to the virus.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Social Welfare, Children and Women Affairs, Lady Ndidi Mezu, observed the aptness of the theme, as it provoked deep reflection on the challenges children face in today’s world.
She admitted that the disease had worsened prevailing problems, including child molestation, rape, deprivation, child labour and abuse.
Mezu observed: “While we celebrate our children, this occasion provides a unique opportunity to re-evaluate actions taken by policy makers, guardians and parents in addressing these challenges faced by our future hope specially in the abnormal period
“Year 2020 crippled socio-economic activities. As a result, more families were thrown into the poverty net. Hunger bred frustration, and this has increased violent conduct, as well as increased domestic violence.”
Also speaking, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and daughter of former Vice President, Lady Chidi Onyemelukwe, sued for people’s thoughts and prayers for 13 million children, some of whom, according to her, are victims of various forms of abuse, including neglect, trafficking, kidnapping, child labour, girl-child marriage, malnourishment and unmet healthcare and educational needs.
In her goodwill message, she promised to prioritise children’s education, welfare and healthcare needs in her quest to govern the state, adding that the welfare of the child was central to her programmes.
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