A Nutritionist, Malam Sani Hassan, has called on governments at all levels to ensure that children’s rights, including nutrition, are protected, respected, and fulfilled.
Hassan made the call in a chat with pressmen, Kaduna on Friday, while commenting on the commemoration of the 2022 Day of the African Child.
He said that the day, being celebrated on June 16 annually drew the attention of government and relevant stakeholders to the need to protect the rights of children at all levels.
According to him, governments and stakeholders should ensure all children have access to good nutrition, through optimal practice of exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding for healthy growth and development.
“The protection of children should commence from conception, with the mothers having access to quality antenatal care, safe delivery, and support to practise exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding.
“Exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding will give a child a good start in life for a strong, healthy growth and development.”
He added that children must also have the right to survival, good environment to grow and participate in decision making, the right to all available opportunities and quality education and development.
He also stressed that girls should be allowed to exercise their right to choose their husbands and the right to be educated, free from molestation and deprivation, based on their gender.
This, according to him, is in line with the four critical components of the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child – right to survival, right to development, right to protection and right to participation.
He said in spite of relevant laws and global commitments, the rights were still being violated in communities, with children being subjected to all kinds of physical, emotional torture and deprivation.
“The Almajiri system in the northern part of the country has created a situation where millions of children are being born, and at the age of three to four years abandoned in the streets to fend for themselves.
“Others were being manufactured and sent to urban centres as slaves in the name of house help or domestic servants,” he said.
He called on stakeholders to stand against all forms of child abuse and molestation, and eliminate all forms of harmful practices that affected the health and livelihood of the child.
Hassan warned that denial of such critical rights would eventually turn children into becoming criminals and menace to society.t
Revealed that June 16 was designated as Day of the African Child in 1991 by the African Union, and every year, events are organised to promote children’s rights.
The annual event honours the memories of students who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 for protesting education injustice and inequality in the apartheid regime. (NAN)