As Nigeria joins the rest of the West African Sub Region to commemorate the 2022 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Human Rights Day, Executive Secretary National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu SAN, has called on government and relevant stakeholders to do more in providing healthcare services for children in order to ensure adequate enjoyment of their rights to health.
The Executive Secretary who made this call in Abuja said although the Nigerian government has put many policies in place for the advancement of the child’s rights to health, there is still more to be done. He said children like adults are entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health as well as facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health as specified by most local and international laws.
He said the theme for this year’s celebration “Guaranteeing Child Rights to Health for Inclusive Community Development” is apt, considering the challenges faced by children which infringe on the enjoyment of their rights to health. These challenges he said are mostly occasioned by insecurity and other forms of conflict in the sub-region.
He described the situation as “ unfortunate, limiting access to health care services and a wide range of rights, like health-related education and information, including information on the effect of harmful traditional practices, all these are hampered by a situation of unrest” he added.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said to adequately guarantee child right to health, government and stakeholders at all levels must create an enabling environment that will enhance the enjoyment of this right, for instance, “the provision of safe potable water, adequate sanitation, adequate and nutritious food, adequate housing, healthy environment, etc”. He added that “the fundamental rights to health of children are hinged on these human rights needs that must be met by all standards regardless of sex, ethnicity, ability or race of a child”.
He noted that children’s health rights differ from that of adults and that they are vulnerable to violations due to their age which makes them depend on adults to meet their health needs, thereby making them unable to protect themselves.
The Learned Silk lamented that report has shown that a great number of children have died within the sub-region as a result of preventable diseases like cholera diarrhea, malaria, malnutrition, etc. He said these diseases and many others are usually spiked by poverty, inequality, and discrimination. “Reducing mortality and morbidity of children should therefore be a key priority of government in the sub-region” he urged.
He commended the efforts of the federal government for eradicating the poliovirus as well as curtailing other killer childhood diseases in the country.
ECOWAS has set aside the 16th of January every year as ECOWAS human rights day. The day coincides with the day the first female African head of state, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in as the president of the Republic of Liberia. The maiden celebration of the ECOWAS human rights day was in 2017.
Fatimah Agwai Mohammed
Deputy Director Public Affairs.