Eye of the Child, a child rights non-governmental organisation (NGO), has called on various stakeholders to take an immediate action in ensuring that children are protected from all forms of abuse and violence and are able to access health services amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Eye of the child Advocacy, Media and Public Relations officer, Memory Chisenga, the organisation acknowledges that the pandemic has affected the world in many ways and Malawi has not been spared as there is a sharp rise of the cases across the country.
“Although children have so far not been largely affected with the severe symptoms of the disease, there are a number of negative impacts Covid 19 has inflicted on children in Malawi, in particular by the social economic impacts and in some cases by mitigation measures set by the healthy experts.
“We are therefore calling on the government, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), faith-based organizations, the media and parents in the country to scale up child protection services and we must do everything in our power to protect and safeguard the well-being of children in Malawi,” she said.
Among concerning issues Chisenga raised were of child labour saying with schools closed to reduce the spread of the pandemic, more children in the country are subjected to violence and abuse such as child labour.
She said: “We fear that cases of child labour will rise putting more children at risk if they are not monitored.”
“Malawi is still in shock with the news that the first wave of Covid 19 in 2020 left almost 13,000 children as victims of child marriages due to school dropouts and teen pregnancies, there is a danger that during the second wave more girls will drop out of school, leading to increased cases of teen pregnancies and child marriages.
“This development will also result into increased cases unsafe abortions and maternal deaths which also has a negative impact on the economy of the country hence the need to cushion the impact of the pandemic on children,” she said.
Meanwhile, the presidential taskforce on Covid-19 announced that school should remain closed for another two weeks beginning from February 8. And another assessment will follow to see if it is safe to open schools.