As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the world indiscriminately, Plan International Ghana says the disease posses a unique challenge to millions of African Children and Ghana is no exception.
This came to light as the world-class NGO observed this year’s Day of the African child in Ghana.
The science surrounding COVID-19 shows symptoms similar to common child ailments like malaria and sickle cell anaemia and unless they are tested, the status of our children will never be known.
As an NGO committed to providing a safe and protective environment where children can operate, especially during this critical times, Plan International Ghana has engaged stakeholders on round table discussions at the Labadi Beach Hotel to deliberate on the impact of COVID-19 on Ghanaian children.
In her opening comment, Madam Anna Nabere, the Girls’ Advocacy Manager of Plan International Ghana shared light on the plight of Ghanaian children in the midst of COVID-19.
She said her outfit has launched series of programs that seek to promote, protect and provide children with their basic needs and if care is not taken, the devastating effects of COVID-19 will erase all these humble gains.
She added that Plan International Ghana has supported the Ministry of Health to provide free antenatal care to will-be mothers.
On education, Madam Anna said a lot of girls have been supported to go back to school before the pandemic but sadly some of these girls risk becoming pregnant during the COVID-19 season owing to deceit by men. Rape, defilement, and transactional sex have been on the increase and these developments are negatively affecting the very existence of innocent children.
On his take, the Executive Director of Child Rights International, Bright Appiah via telephone link related that in the case of Ghana, over 200 children tested positive to coronavirus out of the first 4,000 earlier cases recorded in Ghana with two deaths and one in critical condition. His major concern was the fact that a lot of these children are asymptomatic to COVID-19 and the issue of infections is a course for worry.
Bright Appiah called for responsible systems to control the social space Ghanaian children occupy to reduce the spread. He also called for a better understanding of the disease to protect children.
Speaking on government intervention towards children, Samuel Anaglate, the Head of Foster Care at the Social Welfare Department mentioned that his outfit has provided hot meals to children in these foster homes to sustain lives. They have also provided PPE for use by these children and enhanced education on sanitation and hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.
Acknowledging the huge challenge of the Social Welfare Department, Mr. Anaglate commended Plan International and allied NGOs, corporate Ghana and individuals for their continuous support. He said no child in the foster home has recorded any infection of COVID-19.
Nana Frimpomaa, the CEO of Caring Kids International, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and former Vice Presidential candidate of the CPP called for a concerted effort from all stakeholders towards the safety and protection of Ghanaian children.
She said there are too many children on the street and sadly, just a few use the face mask let alone observe the hygiene protocols. These are hungry children most of who have no home, security, family and life.
The lively discussion moderated by Nana Odoi Gyampoh, an experienced journalist attracted a lot of media houses who engaged panellists with a series of interviews, sessions after the session.
The Programs Officer of International Needs Network, Elikem Awuye on her part touched on the economic, health, education, social and protective effect of COVID-19 on Ghanaian children. She said her outfit has provided dignity kits to over 7000 girls in their program areas and called for more collaboration to ease the pressure on girls.
Making her final submission, the CEO of Public Health Development Initiative, Ophelia Awinboma Azure applauded Plan International for its selfless effort in protecting, providing and promoting children in Ghana. She said millions of Ghanaian children have critical issues made worse by the pandemic and the earlier Ghanaians take responsible actions, the better for the future of Ghana.