lunes, 24 de septiembre de 2012

Children without Childhood

If you have had, or will have the opportunity to visit different countries, I invite you to compare the situation of children. The contrast would surprise you.

I say this because even though I am from a developing country (Colombia), I can not stop being  amazed by the privations that the Mozambican children live, but I mean not only material deprivation that would be normal in a country that has placed 184 among 187 countries in the Human Development Index 2011. I refer also to the lack of opportunities that limit their present and future development.

According to UNICEF data for 2010: 883,000 births were stimated in that year; of which only 55% were attended by skilled personnel, while 114,000 children died before age 5. One of the main causes of these deaths is diarrhea (believe it or not) and only half of children with diarrhea have access to oral rehydration and continued feeding. Another reason is that while Malaria treatments are available in health centers, prevention is still poor: only a quarter of children under 5 sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

Approximately one fifth of children in early childhood suffer from underweight, moderate and severe, with approximately half of the children in this stage do not have the estimated size for his age. This could be explained by the lack of a balanced diet, drinking water in all regions, health facilities and generally better living conditions.

The threat of AIDS for children is also troubling given that women of childbearing could transmit the virus to their children, if get pregnant, are 760,000. Also, it is estimated that there are 130,000 children in Mozambique under 14, infected with AIDS. An estimated 2100000 children who lost their parents of whom 670,000 were due to AIDS. Among these orphan children 4 out of 5 attend school.

While literacy of young people aged 15 to 24 still has serious deficiencies, the situation is even worse when comparing gender: 78% of men in contrast to 64% of women.

It is estimated that child labor affects one in five children (from what I've seen I would say that the proportion is significantly higher) mainly in the case of girls. Early marriage is also a fact that in the XXI century is unacceptable: 17% of adolescents were married by age 15 and half of 18 year olds were married. Even the 36% of women justify domestic violence including the teenagers.

So if you ask me a strategy for economic development, I would reply that it is necessary to protect and ensure the full development of children, so that when they grow up they can proactively contribute to the growth of their country with ideas and work, but this requires educating them and having a healthy life, including women in the educational system and the labor market.

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