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General News of Saturday, 20 June 2020

Source: GNA

Coronavirus: We must increase awareness on child abuse

Mrs Florence Ayisi Quartey, Acting Director, Department of Children of the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, has called for a focus on creating awareness on child abuse during this coronavirus pandemic period.

She said aside disrupting normalcy, the lockdown that followed had aggravated existing challenges of children and the vulnerable, which included lack of basic facilities such as food and access to health.

Mrs Quartey made the call when she opened a two day workshop in Ho to train selected traditional and religious leaders from the Volta and Oti Regions on child protection during the pandemic.

“Children are exposed to a lot of vulnerabilities in this era of quarantine such as poverty. Where the economic livelihood of some care givers is affected negatively, these children will lack essential things like food, health, clothing and this has increased risk of child abuse and other forms of vulnerabilities,” she said.

Mrs Quartey said the economic implications of the mitigating measures on COVID-19 exposed children to gender-based violence, and also carried the risk of mental and psycho-social stress.

She said the Ghanaians Against Child Abuse (GACA) had been rejuvenated to deliver the needed awareness, and was falling on traditional and religious authorities to bring on board their influence.

Dr Senanu Djokoto, Deputy Volta Regional Director of Health Services in charge of Public Health, said children risked becoming the biggest victims of the pademic, adding that although they had been spared the risks of infection, most child welfare interventions including immunisation and nutrition programmes were being affected and could cause increase in mortality rates.

“Lots of gains made in two to five years stand to be reversed if interventions are not sped up”, he said, and appealed to traditional and religious leaders to ensure that the vulnerable benefited from coronavirus intervention programs.

“Don’t be too far removed from what is going on. Let us help with the interventions”, Dr Dzokoto stated, calling for support in enforcing the preventive protocols particularly face masking and social distancing.

The campaign would produce and distribute sensitization materials on child-friendly hygiene, and child protection in communities.

Jingles on child abuse, and messages from traditional and religious authorities would also be produced for broadcast by community public address systems.

The workshop is powered by the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection and UNICEF with support from the Obaapa Development Foundation, a non-governmental organization.

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