Story by Carlos Afanou

As it observed this year's, 2020, day of the African Child in Ghana, Plan International Ghana said the pandemic posses a serious threat to millions of African children with Ghana being of no exception.

Plan International Ghana is an NGO committed to providing safe and protective environment where children can operate especially during critical times like this era of COVID-19 pandemic. The NGO engaged stakeholders on round table discussion at the Labadi Beach Hotel to deliberate on the impact of COVID-19 on Ghanaian children.

Madam Anna Nabere, the girls' advocacy manager of Plan International Ghana shared light on the plight of Ghanaian children in the mist of COVID-19 pandemic. According to her, they have launched series of programmes that seek to promote, protect and provide children with their basic needs and if care is not taken, the devastating effects of COVID-19 will erase all these humble gains.

She added that Plan International Ghana has supported the Ministry of Health to provide free antenatal care to will-be mothers. On education, Madam Anna said a lot of girls have been supported to go back to school before the pandemic but sadly some of these girls risk becoming pregnant during the COVID session owing to deceit by men. Rape, Defilement, Transactional Sex have been on the increase and these developments are negatively affecting the very existence of innocent children.

The Executive Director of Child Rights International, Mr. Bright Appiah, via telephone link related that in the case of Ghana, over 200 children tested positive to corona virus out of the first 4000 earlier cases recorded in Ghana with 2 deaths and 1 in critical condition. His major concern was the fact that a lot of these children are asymptomatic to covid-19 and the issue of infections is a course for worry. Bright Appiah called for responsible systems to control the social space Ghanaian children occupy to reduce the spread. He also called for better understanding of the disease to protect children.

Speaking on government intervention towards children, Mr Samuel Anaglate, the head of Foster Care at the Social Welfare Department mentioned that his outfit has provided hot meals to children in these foster homes to sustain lives. They have also provided PPEs for use by these children and enhanced education on sanitation and hygiene to reduce the risk of infection. Acknowledging the huge challenge of the Social Welfare Department, Mr Anaglate commended Plan International and allied NGOs, corporate Ghana and Individuals for their continues support for their continuous support. He said no child in the foster home has recorded any infection of Covid-19.

Nana Frimpomaa, the CEO of Caring Kids International, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and former Vice Presidential Candidate of the CPP called for concerted effort from all stakeholders towards the safety and protection of Ghanaian children.

She lamented on the many children left on the street and sadly just a few use the face mask let alone observe the hygiene protocols. "These are hungry children most of whom have no home, no security, no family and no life. Until we holistically engage these kids, the fight against covid-19 risk failing", she said.

The lively discussion moderated by Nana Odoi Gyampoh, an experienced journalist attracted a lot of media houses who engaged panelist of series of interview sessions after the session.

The programs officer of International Needs Network Elikem Awuye on her part touched on the economic, health, education, social and protective effect of covid-19 on Ghanaian children. She said her outfit has provided dignity kits to over 7000 girls in their program areas and called for more collaboration to ease the pressure on girls.

Making her final submission the CEO of Public Health Development Initiative, Ms Ophelia Awinboma Azure applauded Plan International for her selfless effort in protecting, providing and promoting children in Ghana. She said millions of Ghana children have critical issues made worse by the pandemic and the earlier we take responsible actions, the better for the future of Ghana.
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