As the world celebrated the International Day of the African Child on June 16, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Rwanda Representative, Julianna Rindsey, commended Rwanda’s efforts to preserve children’s rights, despite the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic caused a shadow crisis of children’s rights in some countries. As a result of measures taken to contain Coronavirus, all schools have been closed since March 16 and are expected to resume in September.
The pandemic led to children missing out on immunization and education and may expose some to abuse with little or no hope of getting the needed help.
In partnership with UNICEF, Rwanda Education Board has had classes for different levels of primary and secondary school on Radios and TVs every day to support continued learning.
Parents have been also facilitated to get immunization services despite the lockdown.
In an interview, Rindsey said that the fact that babies continue to get routine services such as immunization is commendable.
“So far there is no major problem with how Rwanda is handling children rights during the pandemic. Some have been able to continue studies remotely with classes being aired on Radios and TVs,” she said.
She added that helping children to confront uncertainties around the current situation and the pandemic by educating and sensitizing them is important.
“Children are taught to prevent Covid-19, they are educated and informed about the pandemic, which is a good thing for them,” she said.
Quality of services for children should be improved
Twenty years ago, 200 out of 1000 children who were born would not live to see their fifth birthday. The number has reduced to 50 children today. Rindsey thinks the number could be reduced to zero deaths.
To do that, she recommends that the government increases the quality of care and services given to newly born babies. Advanced resources and skilled nurses and caregivers will help to improve the quality of services.
“Small babies especially those who are born prematurely should be provided with better services. The government should plan with enough budget to improve such kinds of services,” she suggested.
In addition, Rindsey said that the National Early Childhood Development Program can play an essential role in raising children in a kind and safe environment.