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September 24, 2018

We must all strive to make our kids healthy

NGONG HILLS: A family having a barbeque on top of the hills.
NGONG HILLS: A family having a barbeque on top of the hills.

We all come from families, villages, communities and in a big diverse society which makes Kenya. A healthy family is a wealthy and a happy one. It is no wonder that whenever your child is unwell, you cannot be at peace.

The constitution guarantees us a right to health under Article 43.

The right is available to all children and their parents. The parents and the state are under a duty to ensure that their children access and enjoy the highest attainable standard of health at all times.

The Children Act offers a statutory framework through which the children can enjoy this right.

Other than legislation, the government has in the bid to ensure that children enjoy the right to health has formulated and is actually implementing a host of wonderful policies and guidelines which, for example, call for all children to get the statutory vaccines like anti-polio, anti-TB and so on. The government has been offering treated mosquito nets to parents in areas with mosquitoes. With the government providing health facilities, it is expected that parents will play their part, for example, in ensuring that they take their children to hospital and make the right use of the mosquito nets.

Parental responsibility includes the ability and duty to take care of the children. Parents must at all times ensure the children are not exposed to deadly illnesses such as pneumonia and malaria. There is an outbreak of a viral disease known as Zika, especially in South America, although there are fears that it could spread to other parts of the world. Parents have a duty to ensure that their children are not exposed to the mosquitoes which the scientists have confirmed are spreading it.

The virus is said to cause damage to the unborn. Many countries have encouraged its citizens to postpone pregnancies so that no or fewer children are born unwell and or with small heads during the moratorium. Only responsible would-be parents will heed this special indirect birth control call from their governments.

Many parents have been reported to hide children living with disabilities for fear of stigma. They usually lock these innocent kids in dark rooms or in goat pens. This is an unacceptable form of inhuman and degrading of treatment which leaves the children without dignity. This must be condemned in the strongest terms. The Constitution in Article 53 and 54 protects such children.

Some parents have exposed their children to polio in the selfish and mistaken belief that their religion does not subscribe to conventional medicine. On the scales of justice with the parents right to religion on one side and the child's right to health on the other, the scale must slide and tilt in favour of the health rights and best interest of the child. Parents must at all times ensure that the child's right to health is upheld, promoted and fulfilled so that their developmental needs are attained.

Some parents are blessed with intersex children. Many parents end up subjecting the healthy children to corrective surgery so that the children can confirm to either male or female gender. This is not necessary. The UN is currently pushing France to stop the intersex genital mutilation. Kenya is on the fast lane towards developing structures and mechanisms that will generate rules and regulations that will inform doctors on how to handle intersex children without having to mutilate their reproductive health organs.

Some parents enjoy their drink and smoke away in the presence of their children as they watch TV in their sitting room. Stop this. You are killing your own children.

There is a very strong link between child health and the environmental pollution taking place in our rivers, forests, air and their environment in general. Our rivers are an eyesore. The trees are coming down every day, killing our catchment areas. The elephant is being hunted down by the ruthless poachers. We cannot say we don't know who is doing it. It's family members who form part of our society. Please take stock and ask yourself whether or not you care for the future of our children before you engage in these offending activities.

During civil strife, many families are forced to leave their homes. Many become refugees far away from home. The recent Syrian to Europe migration is a good example.

The ability to take care of the health needs of their children is adversely affected during this dark period. They are exposed to very harsh weather conditions and emotional trauma. They have no hospitals to go to. There are no doctors to attend to them. Many end up suffering from loss of and or disconnection from their parents. Internally displaced children suffer the same way.

For how long shall we continue exposing the children to intentional violation of their right to health?

The parents have a big role to play in the equation that will cushion our innocent future leaders.

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