Put children welfare at centre of planning

Thursday, March 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Constitution of Kenya. Photo/Courtesy

It was heartbreaking to learn about the deaths of seven infants in Baringo County as a result of alleged negligence.

This is quite disturbing, especially in a country where 74,000 children die every year before reaching the age of five.

While the move by the county to investigate the alleged negligence is welcome, more needs to be done to ensure children’s health and welfare are given priority, especially in these Covid-19 times.

According to reports, the disruption of critical health services has negatively impacted the health and nutrition of children.

Impact of the pandemic has also seen increased gender-based violence against children.

Unicef says 53 per cent of children are living in multidimensional poverty as a result of the pandemic.

This has exacerbated an already existing problem of malnourishment and stunted growth among Kenyan children.

Indeed, several counties have put in place efforts to address nutritional challenges facing children.

In Nakuru County, day care facilities would need to function in a safe and clean environment with staff in Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE), if the Child Care Facilities Bill 2019 is ratified.

In Nyeri, the free milk programme in ECDE centres will go a long way to boost the health of young learners.

Such efforts must be lauded, though we need to do more as a country to ensure children receive the care they need.

This means putting in place necessary protocols and measures that include food production, social protection, education and clean water supply.

These systems must extend to maternal care, ensuring mothers are well-fed, well informed and aware of various issues that may arise to endanger their lives and that of foetuses and children.

It should also include having the right facilities, and experts including paediatricians, nurses, and other specialists to take care of children at all levels from the home, day care to health care centres, where children should access the right care, diagnosis and treatment to ensure they are in the right health. Same goes with the education sector.

Also, budgets must be created with the child in mind to ensure they are catered for at both county and national levels.

Importantly, children with disabilities must be included in all the aspects because they, too, have rights.

With prioritising children’s health and welfare, we’ll be setting the country on a path of prosperity and success.

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