August is both Women and Child Health Month, allowing us to reflect on the rights of women and children and assess improvements to be made to protect the rights of women and children.
CHIVA Africa acknowledges that we are living in challenging times and that women and children have experienced the greater share of adversity, as their vulnerability is exacerbated by social and political volatility. The COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng interrupted access to child and adolescent health services, maternal care for pregnant women, services relating to chronic illnesses, and sexual and reproductive health care. The country’s focus on adult COVID-19 care and an already strained health system aggravated the situation, resulting in the health needs of children and adolescents being neglected – the prediction is that the negative effects of this will be felt for years to come. It is estimated that primary healthcare visits for children aged under five years of age dropped by 23% in 2020 and the concern is that the gains in the treatment of HIV, tuberculosis, and malnutrition will be severely curtailed resulting in the long-term cost for child health, growth, and development.
CHIVA Africa believes that the needs of children and adolescents cannot simply be placed on hold while other priorities are addressed, and as a nation we have a responsibility to support and ensure that children not only survive but thrive. South Africa’s commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals requires that it must action women and children rights and address inequality. Health systems must be strengthened to protect, maintain, and deliver essential services to avoid immediate and long-term damage to child health. Further, investment must be made in girl’s and women’s health, education, businesses, and skills training – the benefits of which are far-reaching.
CHIVA Africa supports rural health workers to ensure that every woman, child, and adolescent should receive the care and protection that they deserve, regardless of where they live.
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