Universal Health Coverage includes ending violence against children
This year’s theme of world health day is universal health care. From our perspective we can not achieve universal health care while 1 Billion children experience violence globally .
I know it sounds out of topic, but let me highlight some of the key health child protection concerns.
Child Sexual Abuse, it is estimated that 40% of adults have experienced some of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse has not only physical implication like tearing or damaging of the genitalia, but also the psychological effects.
Physical Abuse, millions of children are physically harmed by adult care givers, children or government officials. Without immediate and appropriate care these children may die.
Harmful cultural practices, Communities all over the world still practice some harmful practice against children. This include FGM which has high prevalence rate in over 28 countries, child marriage which is global problem and other initiations. Female Genital Mutilation kills women girls and women every year and not to mention the reproductive health complication as a result of the practice.
Child neglect, Millions of children are growing without care. These children come from low and high income communities. Neglect has been identified as the number cause of mental health problem.
According to Child Fund the cost of violence against children is over 700 billion dollars annually. The UHC movement should include measure to prevent violence against children, and the money can be used to improve health services for children such
- Social workforce strengthening, this will ensure every child can access preventive services where needed at the grassroots.
- Affordable and accessible mental health services, including early detection centers.
- Easy access rescue centres for children escaping from harmful cultural practices.
- Public health services that are child protection sensitive, e.g. training community health workers on detecting violence at house hold level.
- Child friendly health facilities, especially adolescents. Most adolescents don’t seek health care because of the fear of being judged. Hence it is important to ensure that the coverage has children in mind.