Nigeria: Why Children Need Alternative Healthcare in Nigeria

26 March 2018

Alternative care has been in the front burner of developing nations as they seek to enhance the lives of children; however the case is not the same in developing nations as data has attributed inadequate funds and poor implementation of the rights and legislation in support of children as the major causes.

The United Nations General Assembly on 20th November 2009 adopted the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Guidelines were designed to provide further guidance regarding the definition of the relationship between parental care and the child's family environment, goals for alternative care, and the criteria for decisions of alternative care placements. It also targeted both policy and practice with specific regard to the protection and well being of children deprived of parental care or who are at risk of being so in the near future.

Also, issues surrounding alternative care for children does not only dwell on framework, guidelines and providing enabling environment, but also for stakeholders engaged in care giving coming together in contributing for orphaned and vulnerable children in the country.

Caregivers in Nigeria as well have called for adoption of best practices globally which the focus is on the UN guidelines on alternative care and how Nigeria can implement it to the latter with emphasis on not just about building structures but also to assess what each partner in the sector is doing and making sure it is in line with guidelines on alternative care and guidelines across the country as stated by the UN guidelines as well as conducting summits and workshops regularly that will bring all healthcare providers, child protection networks, and the government in championing the cause of alternative care for children.

A survey conducted by the National Population Commission in collaboration with UNICEF and Centre for Disease Control revealed that 6 in every 10 Nigerian children survey emotional violence apart from other forms of violence like emotional and physical violence. This revelation has led to several calls on the need to see care for children who are not in orphanages or other care giving homes in order to boost their mental and physical development.

SOS Children's villages in Nigeria, a child protection and advocacy group, joined forces with other stakeholders to call for implementation of different forms of alternative care for children across states to facilitate their growth and development.

The national programme development and strategy adviser of the organisation, Mr. Mark Nwakaudu made the call recently at a symposium in Abuja.

"There are different forms of alternative care asides the normal orphanages we have around, adoption of children, as well as foster care on the part of meaningful Nigerians and government are the aspects which we need to key in the development of the Nigerian Child", he said

He identified effective implementation of the Child Rights Act as one of the key factors in facilitating alternative care for children.

Nwakaudu lamented the poor implementation of the Child Rights Act in some states of the federation, and even at the federal level in terms of funding and enlightenment by necessary organizations. He called for more partnership with several stakeholders and institutions engaged in alternative care giving.

He added that four SOS children's villages in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun and Jos are partnering with government and other key stakeholders in ensuring that protection against physical, emotional and sexual violation against children and also implementation of the United Nations alternative care guidelines which the group sees as the key ingredient of the child rights act that needs critical attention.

In his remarks, the chairman of the Gwagwalada Area Council Adamu Mustapha Danze said the council has priotized child protection by collaborating with relevant institution prosecuting offenders of violation against children and that it has recorded success over the years.

The chairman who was represented by the Head, Department of Education and Social Development in the council, Dr. Numa Sheshi added that the council has put everything in place to establish a family court, transit home and children's parliament in an effort to provide conducive environment for children to improve.

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