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Foundation harps on African orphan children’s welfare

Bimbo Odukoya Foundation

Bimbo Odukoya Foundation has continued to advocate for the rights and welfare of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Africa.

Speaking during an advocacy programme held in Lagos recently by the Foundation, its Executive Coordinator, Mrs. Aderonke Oyelakin, said those children are subjected to different agonies which must be tackled.

Oyelakin, who doubles as the State Coordinator, Child Protection Network, noted that many of the disadvantaged children who fall between the ages of zero and 17, are faced with health challenges without assistance coming their way.

She stated: “The United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) estimates that the number of orphans (age 0 – 17 years) globally is 140 million. There is a huge and growing number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Africa.

“Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development estimates that there are 17.5 million orphans and vulnerable children nationwide. These children face enormous challenges to their health and development and it is estimated that 95 percent of OVC do not receive any type of medical, emotional, social, material, or school-related assistant.

“Childhood malnutrition is one of the major causes of childhood morbidity and mortality in Nigeria and a cross-sectional study of 2015 revealed that more than a quarter of OVC studied showed symptoms of mild to moderate malnutrition.

“In addition, close to 70 per cent experienced household food insecurity, putting them at risk for malnutrition (Tagurum et al. 2015).”

Oyelakin noted that Nigeria is currently expanding its support to OVC through so many Civil Society Organosations doing amazing work with vulnerable children and their families through empowerment and economic strengthening programmes.

“The alternative care guidelines recently launched in Lagos State is a very good approach in relation to international best practices in ensuring children are not institutionalised but in a family setting which is far better for them to thrive.

“However, knowing how important the role of family is in the development of children is crucial. As parents/guardians, you are their first teachers. More than day care or other caregivers, most of your child’s learning happens at home with their family. Creating an environment where your child can learn the appropriate skills and values as well as learn how to socialise and be secure, creates a solid foundation upon which your child can grow.”

Meanwhile, she hinted that more awareness and sensitisation should be done across board on the family based cased using the alternative care guidelines.

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