Protect children’s right to health, UNICEF urges govts

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Angela Onwuzoo

The United Nations Children’s Fund has urged governments at all levels in Nigeria to make life better for every child by making sure that children have what they need for healthy growth and development.

The UN agency stressed that government officials at all levels must help protect children’s right to health, right to nutrition, and right to be safe in the environment.

UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Ms. Cristian Munduate, made the call as children all over the world mark the 2022 World Children’s Day.

November 20 every year is celebrated as World Children’s Day and the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This year’s theme is ‘Inclusion, for Every Child’.

Speaking at a sporting event in Lagos on Saturday organised by UNICEF Nigeria to commemorate the day, Munduate, said adults across the globe have to work and commit to making sure that children’s rights are guaranteed. 

The event featured football matches and climate change painting activities by children. Children living with disabilities were also included in the activities of the day. There was also a musical performance by Cobhams Asuquo – UNICEF Nigeria Ambassador.

The UNICEF Nigeria Representative said children should be provided the same opportunity to thrive.

Munduate said, “All around the globe and in all the countries, UNICEF is supporting children and celebrating today. 

“The meaning is that children have rights. A right to education, a right to health, a right to nutrition, and a right to be protected in a safe environment.

“Children have the right to sing, dance, and celebrate. And all of us, all the adults of the world have to work and commit to make sure they have their rights guaranteed. 

“We are calling for a commitment to make a better life for children every day and every moment.

“The sporting activities are to provide children an opportunity to play and participate in games.

“We should let children participate in sports and play.”

She also called for an inclusive society. 

“We should be inclusive. We have seen children with us that have different capacities. Today, we are singing and dancing for inclusion. All children are the same, all children need to have the same opportunities in life. 

“That children have emotional and psychological differences, doesn’t mean they are different. But we have to provide them with the same opportunities. They are very talented and creative. Everyone has a role to play,” she said.

According to her, the media needs to demand the right to guarantee school and education for children.

She stated that families and parents need to be sensitised to know that their children have a right to be educated and to facilitate their access and attendance to school. 

The UNICEF Nigeria Representative called on governments at all levels to assume the commitment that they will make efforts to bring children to school.

“If children cannot be brought to school, then schools have to be brought to children. By the way, there are no dropouts. Children do not drop out of school. It is a school that drops out children. So, this is the concept of human rights. That we should do all our efforts to make sure that the children have all that they need for healthy growth and development”, she noted.

In his speech, a music artiste and UNICEF Nigeria Ambassador, Cobhams Asuquo, urged the children to enjoy their childhood in a safe environment. 

The producer and singer advised the children to form good habits, adding that they are not too young to take care of their parents, teachers, and the planet. 

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