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Opinions of Thursday, 16 January 2014

Columnist: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

The sad death of two kids in their father’s car - child protection program needed

Let’s pay extra attention to our children especially when they are very young; at home or any other place since they tend to play into dangerous areas in their naivety. While, I pondered over the news on those two kids who lost their lives playing in their father’s car in Accra, what came to mind which I personally feel should be considered seriously by parents and the government is to start a child protection program.

This sad occurrence has happened several times in diverse scenarios to some families in the country. What this means is that, these families who lost their kids after going through all the painful ordeals of child bearing would have to begin from scratch to produce new children. This is disheartening indeed.

The sad news is that, these two children, aged two and four, lost their lives through suffocation last Saturday, after they were trapped in their father’s car at Asofa, a part of Achimota in Accra.

Four-year-old Samuel Okoampah-Ntow and two-year-old Samuela Okoampah met their fate when they found their way into their father’s taxi after he had parked it and left for a church meeting with their mother not too far from their home.

According to a police report, the children found their way into the car after they were left to play with their neighborhood friends while their parents went to church. They were trapped in the taxi with registration number GT 7187-13, gasping for air until they were discovered unconscious by their parents when the duo returned from the meeting.

It was a melancholic spectacle as the parents found it difficult to contain their emotions. The unconscious kids were rushed to the Aneija Clinic at Tantra Hill, Achimota, but were pronounced dead on arrival by a doctor.

It was discovered that the father, Francis Okoampah-Ntow, did not lock the car when he let the kids out to play. This made it possible for them to gain easy access into the taxi leading to an eventual suffocation.

As it has been said earlier on, this is not the first time children have been trapped to death in cars in Ghana and other nations across the world. However, what needs to be done is to be attentive to children at home. Children in their formative years are very adventurous and playful. As they see their parent drive cars around, they would definitely wish to imitate them. We therefore have to pay attention to their movements and what they do at home.

The state especially, the Ministry of Gender, Children and its Social Welfare department must do more regarding children’s welfare. The bodies concerned must embark on projects to sensitize communities on how to maintain the safety of their children at all times. If possible, a team could be set up to promote public safety within the social welfare department, to work towards preventing the untimely deaths of children as they play about in their homes and neighborhoods. When similar incidents happened in the United States the nation took steps to protect children from dying in their parents’ cars.

The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) officials participated in a demonstration on the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles during a news conference to launch the 'Look before You Lock' campaign at the Campagna Center at George Washington Head Start, on August 17, 2012 in Alexandria, Virginia.

The case in retrospect here is that, an 11-month-old in Alabama, is the 21st child victim this year to die of heat stroke after being left in a car. The baby girl was left for approximately three hours in her parents' vehicle on Wednesday. Her body temperature when found was 105 degrees, according to local police.

Jenny Stanley, a mother of three, is all too familiar with the pain of losing a child to hyperthermia, the medical term for heat stroke.

On August 22, 2010, her daughter Sydney climbed into the family's parked car and became trapped inside the vehicle. The family thought she was at the neighbor's house playing with her friend. When Sydney was finally found by Jenny's husband, Mike, it was too late. Paramedics on the scene were unable to resuscitate her. She was six years old.

Stanley now dedicates her time working with Safe Kids and the General Motors Foundation, making other parents aware of the dangers of unattended children in cars. We can embark on a similar initiative. Therefore, let’s embark on the initiative now.

By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

Executive Director

eanfoworld for sustainable development (GET IN TOUCH WITH US)