International Day of the African Child aims to raise awareness for the situation of children across Africa, and on the need for continuing improvement in education. First established by the Organization of the African Unity in 1991 the day encourages people's spirit of abundance to share something special with a child in Africa.
This year, FIGO has asked Dr Anne Kihara, FIGO member and President, African Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kenya to share her thoughts:
Children are the most precious gem for the global future! Quality care needs to be provided to ensure girls meet their fullest potential in youth, and in reproductive age.
Obstetricians and paediatricians need to provide leadership in addressing social determinant and providing a robust reproductive health system and public health with acceptable socio- cultural backdrop starting from the household up to the global level. We must care for all children to ensure that their lives are supported, alongside progression towards Sustainable Development Goals; with no one left behind and every woman and every child accounted for.
Incidences where the African Child has been failed include:
- Right to birth and registration according them citizenry status and a sense of belonging,
- Lack of equal access to education. Although the region’s enrolment rate grew from 52 per cent in 1990 to 80 per cent in 2015.
- Ill-health from risks associated with malaria and HIV infection
- Non-communicable diseases such as malnutrition and obesity.
Health indicators in Africa are increasingly showing we are grappling with early premarital sexual debut and marriages with increased vulnerability to sexual transmitted diseases and HIV; teenage pregnancies; unmet need for modern contraceptives, unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion; obstetric fistulas; psychosocial aberrations from dysfunctional relationships; drug abuse; school dropout rates with languid cycle of poverty; dejection/ stigma; gender disempowerment especially for the girl child and in some cases severe disability and even death.
Remedial legislature and policies, leadership and research that address the growing child and adolescent are yet to gain a strong foothold in many African countries. Sadly, children are not often given a “voice” in their own health and wellbeing.
The information age is revealing that more evidence dictates how we take a more pragmatic approach in addressing gaps and employment of innovative communication strategies. Parents, guardians, mentors and clinicians all need to spend quality time embracing the child as being integral to their decision making processes for their health and well-being ….. Inspire them to exude their fullest potential.
Inspiring Africa’s youth to reach their full potential, and investing in their health and wellbeing, are indeed integral. With 60 percent of Africa’s population currently 24 and below it is evident that, given proper investments, African’s youth could play an important role in facilitating high and inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction across the continent.