Intensify COVID-19 campaigns targetted at children

BY: By Rebecca Kwei

The Government has been called upon to intensify campaigns that will make children understand the importance of adhering to protocols aimed at preventing COVID-19.

A report titled “COVID-19: State of Children in Ghana by Child Rights International (CRI), an NGO, showed that  2,180 children below 18 years  contracted COVID-19 from March 11 to November 9, 2020.

The report was to unravel the behaviour pattern of the virus in children and the socio-economic state of children, and based on this, propose alternate systems of protection for providing care for children.

The research, conducted by the CRI, used both quantitative and qualitative methods for collecting data. The data sampled 589 communities, towns and cities, in addition to nationwide data on COVID-19 provided by the Ghana Health Service (GHS). Secondary data from other sources were included in the research.

The report noted that in Ghana, COVID-19 had established a certain path that provided incidence of COVID-19 among children between the age groups of 0-14 and 15-17.

It said majority of children who had contracted COVID-19 fell within the age group of 0-14 as compared to those in the age group of 15-17.

More girls have contracted COVID-19 as compared to boys within each cohort. However, the mortality is higher in boys as compared to that of girls.

Out of 2,180 children who have contracted COVID-19, four deaths have been recorded among children within the age group of 0-14 years. No death was recorded in children between the age cohort of 15-17.

The report said there was the need for the  government to institute programmes to boost the immune system of children, such as a proper nutrition system to ensure children have a balanced diet, good personal and environmental hygiene practices and physical activity as much as possible.

“Moving forward, there must be a comprehensive nutritional plan under the school feeding programme in schools and the provision of regular information on nutritional values to the general public in order to maintain a strong immune system against COVID-19 in children,” the report said.

On abuse, domestic and economic activities of children, the report said despite the closure of schools, the corporate environment had not changed its calendar to accommodate the lapses that are emanating from the family system to allow parents to spend time with their children.

This, it said, was having a heavy toll on children and could possibly lead to other vices that can affect the welfare and wellbeing of children.

The report recommended that the corporate environment  provided convenient alternative structures for child welfare, especially for nursing mothers.

On education, the report said children were yet to benefit from the learning platforms provided across all regions.

The digital platforms reached only five per cent of the children in the regions, namely Bono, Ahafo, Ashanti, Western and Eastern.

Television and radio coverage reached 32 per cent of children surveyed except in the Greater Accra Region.

Despite the alternative measures put in place, 89 per cent of children complained that distance learning platforms had not been an effective way of learning as compared to classroom settings.

In view of this, the report said there would be the urgent need for technology to be considered heavily in the educational system.

This would allow the ease of its usage and application in learning modules for children as they go further in education.