As the World marks the Day of the African Child on Tuesday, African countries have been accused of failing to improve on the status of their children’s health and environment.
A Medical officer at Nakuru Level Five Hospital, Dr. Joseph Keryo said an African child was disadvantaged right from conception and there was need to improve their access to healthcare and ensure all children are born in health facilities.
He said the Universal health care being implemented by the government was a step in the right direction but much more needed to be done for children.
The medic said visits to antenatal clinics should be accessible to every expectant mother because there are many interventions’ which can improve an infants’ health even while in the womb. He was speaking to KNA at the hospital.
Dr. Keryo observed that even the environment where African children were brought up disadvantages them compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world stressing; “ A number of households still lack water and sufficient foodstuffs to enable the developing bodies achieve their optimum.”
Dr. Keryo emphasized that the worst disadvantage to an African child was being born and nurtured by another child. “To avoid such sad scenarios it is paramount that every girl should at least attain seven years of education because research has proved that it delays marriage by four years and thus results in fewer healthier children,” he added.
Although child marriage was still rampant in some areas of the country, the most memorable quotation is that of the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, George Natembeya, who urged men to dress their wives in school uniforms, since that’s what they admire in school girls, and leave the pupils alone.
However, a visual artist in Nakuru Town, Joseph Chirchir said putting aside a day for the African Child, has negative implications on the leadership of the continent because if they cannot protect the vulnerable, who else can be safe in their borders.
But he said in his artwork he always depicts the ‘real African Child’ who according to him, is always happy and enjoys a burst of hearty laughter under the bright tropical sun.
The Day of the African Child was proposed in 1991 by the African Union in memory of the Soweto uprising of 1976, when many school children were killed by the apartheid regime, during a demonstration demanding for quality education.
By Veronica Bosibori