Child Advocacy: Legal Protection from Infections and Diseases

The Black's Law Dictionary defines a child as person under the age of majority. The labour Act as well describes a child  as a young person under the age of twelve, and a young person is defined as a young person under the age of fourteen. According to the Children  and Young Persons Act ,a child is a  person under the age of fourteen years while a young person is a  person who has reached the age of fourteen years but is under the age of seventeen years. According  to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, a child is "any human being under the age of eighteen."


Child advocacy cut across  individuals, experts and advocacy groups who talk out on the excellent pastimes of children. This group of people seek to guard the right of children that might have been abridged or abused due to a wide variety of situations which includes domestic , physical and sexual abuse or neglect . Those that fight for the right of children are called child advocates . Child advocate are those that support , solicit , uphold , campaign, promote, protect and defend , root for , speak for , press for , fight for ,encourage , favor and justify the rights of children. And without  pressing action, health crisis will turn into a child-rights crisis


The Child Advocacy Center established in the United state is traceable to the former congressman Robert Cramer who recognized the lack of conversation between social offerings and crook justice offerings in instances of abused children. Generally , it is said that children are the future of a country . Therefore the government and society at large must make sure that children receive adequate health care , help and protection that they lack .It is must be acknowledged that right to good health is very important such that it will enable children enjoy all of their other rights. . 


The right to health, which is included in socioeconomic rights as entrenched in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria  is linked to  political, economic, and social well-being and security of all citizen irrespective of age . Its enforceability is critical for Nigeria's survival; without it, there will be human insecurity, widespread diseases and endemic infections, and a lack of access to health treatment, all of which will result in hardship, as well as slowed economic progress and low living standards.


"It is health, not pieces of gold and silver, that is real wealth," Mahatma Gandhi said. Children are a minority group under international human rights law. They are, by nature, extremely fragile, and particular legislation to address their needs are required, as the well-being of future generations is dependent on how effectively children are raised now.


Children have legal protection against infections and diseases such that there are numerous legal instruments and framework  both municipal and  international that cater for the best interest of children around the globe . Children are often referred to as minorities in the sense that the  rights of minority children are  abused, notably by acts of discrimination, and non recognition. The enjoyment and exercise of their fundamental rights face numerous barriers. They are, for example, underprivileged regarding their access to education as well as access to health and proper care. 


Children have less rights than adults and are classified as incapable of making major decisions, thus they must always be supervised by an adult. Even within the same country, the age at which a person ceases to be a child  differs in several circumstances. In this article, the word child includes  both children and young people.


Article 13 of Child Rights Act(2003) caters  for Right to health and health services of a child . The subsection 1 states that every child must enjoy the first-class workable level  of physical, intellectual and non secular health.The subsection 2 states that   every government , parent, guardian or institution accountable for taking care of a child must ensure the child gets the best attainable  state of health . The subsection 3 focus on the fact that every government in Nigeria must ) endeavour to decrease child and baby mortality rate, make certain the provision of quintessential scientific help and health  care offerings to all  children  with emphasis on the improvement of predominant health care,  make sure enough vitamin and protected consuming water is provided, make sure  top hygiene and environmental sanitation is provided , fight ailment and malnutrition inside the framework of health  care through the use technology, support, via technical and monetary means, the mobilisation of country wide and local community assets in the improvement of main health care for children. Subsection 4 provides that every parent or guardian who has the custody of a child and is taking care of the child underneath the age of two years must make sure that  the toddler is immunized . Subsection 5 provides that any  parent, guardian or individual having the care of a child  who fails in the responsibility imposed on him in  subsection (4) of this law commits an offence and is in charge on conviction for a first offence, to a satisfactory  not exceeding 5 thousand naira and 2nd or any subsequent offence, whether or not in recognition of that child  or any different child, to imprisonment for a time period time  not exceeding one month.Subsection 6 which concludes provides that the court may additionally make, in substitution for or addition to any penalty stipulated beneath subsection (5) of this section, an order compelling the parents or guardian of a child to get the infant immunised.

Despite several provisions on the rights of children in our local laws and international conventions, there appears to be a gap between law and reality, resulting in the child's current inability to exercise these rights. With the presence of street children and child beggars, child labor and child maltreatment are still prevalent. Children have been robbed of the funds needed to implement their rights in the health-care delivery system due to government corruption. The spread of diseases and infections among children in the country endangers their right to life, and the government has done nothing to address the problem. Sexual harassment and child desertion are still common, putting children in danger both physically and morally. There is want  for greater political will and monetary strength on the section of the authorities to put in force these legal guidelines in the pastime of the Nigerian child. Finally, it is advocated that all stake holders have to be accurate trained and enlightened on these rights. Parents, children, families, and the Governments have to be alert to their obligations beneath these legal guidelines and pay higher interest to their implementation.


References
  1. Child and Young Persons Law , Lagos State 1973 
  2. African Charter on Rights and Welfare of Child 1991
  3. Child Rights Act 2003

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