A few weeks ago I attended the launch of the Situation Analysis of Children in Uganda report at Golf course hotel organized by UNICEF Uganda, and I got to understand that many children in this country(The pearl of Africa) have never realized some of their rights. And some of us might have missed out on ours.
Do you know how rate on the Global High maternal and child morality rates? We are among the 10 worst countries that a big magnitude of newborns deaths. These children have rights like the one of survival, it’s their God given right not to die as babies. We as adults are failing these blessings. Not only are we letting babies down but our adolescents are dying due to HIV/AIDS. 300 deaths a day are recorded among teenagers who have died due to the disease (UNAIDS, 2014). If our babies don’t die as infants then we have let malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and infections like HIV to take our 5 year olds and below.
We have very many gaps in the health service provision sector that can’t enable our children to survive. We want to send our best health workers to foreign countries yet we have insufficient and unmotivated ones treating our children. We allocate inadequate finances to health in our budget and send all the money to the military. Our hospitals suffer request stock-outs of drugs, and the institutional and community systems are so week to address implementation bottlenecks for health policies.
When it comes to costs of health care, our insurance systems are too expensive for small households to afford. When you look at our health systems expenditures are money is got from household expenditure constituting at 43%, donors at 34% and government at 23% (MOH, 2013a). Why does the government have to spend less on its own citizens?
In Uganda this pearl of Africa, we loses $899 million worth of productivity per year due to high levels of stunting, iodine-deficiency disorders, iron deficiency, and low birth weight. We are gifted by nature but have children deprived of access to safe water and have an emerging concern about children with disabilities – children whose condition is often as the result of ante- and neonatal complications related to capacity constraints in the delivery of basic health services.
While we, Uganda have made important strides in extending primary schooling since universal primary education was introduced in 1997, the dropout rates remain high and the education quality has declined. After all every pupil and students have to pass to the next class no matter what the cost.
Conflict and disasters (natural and manmade) continue to undermine and disrupt the provision of education, as well as the development and wellbeing of children more generally. Violence in schools is widespread which is contributing to the high dropout rates and poor performances in schools.
Our early childhood development policies have improved at national level, with implementation and coordination being the next core challenges. But we have seen how implementations in this country are done. We never implement, we pass laws and files them away in a beautiful drawer.
Do you know we have 17.1 million children below 18 years (over 56% of the population); 11.3% of these are orphans, 8% of them are critically vulnerable, while 43% are moderately vulnerable (moGlsd, 2011 and UBOS, 2014a)? Or, that only 60% of children aged 0–4 years have birth registration papers as per 2014 (UNICEF Uganda, 2015)?
Or even, that nearly half (49%) of women aged 20–49 years were married before the age of 18 years and 15% by the age of 15 years (UBOS and ICF international, 2012)? Do we even care?!
When it comes to crime activities, the amount of time juveniles spend in detention before sentencing has decreased from five to three months on average, though the number of juvenile offenders rehabilitated after release has increased.
The 2008 National Child Participation Guide provides guidelines on participation but does not define actions or goals. The existing children participation initiatives have limited reach. In particular, children’s and youth participation initiatives tend to be related to specific programmes funded and run by international and local NGOs. Even with all these initiatives, there is concern that many participatory initiatives do not reach the most disadvantaged or excluded children and, as such, can potentially contribute to further social exclusion.
There are no institutionalized mechanisms for child participation and for ensuring that children’s views are considered in decision-making at national and lower levels.
I can go now with this rant but I think these 700 words and so have given you a better picture of what is going on with our children, the future of the Pearl of Africa.