The first Saturday in November has been declared National Children’s Day in South Africa.
The aim of this day is to highlight the progress that is being made in the promotion and realisation of children’s rights.
A child’s right to be healthy
Children have the same right to be healthy as adults do. The World Health Organisation defines health as: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
And, says the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the right to health also extends to appropriate health care, and the things that affect health, such as access to clean drinking water, sanitation, safe food, housing, and a healthy environment.
The huge role of sufficient nourishment
Essential to a child’s health is sufficient nourishment – something that begins before birth with the nutrition of its mother. Insufficient nourishment during pregnancy, and during the first two years of life can seriously hamper a child’s brain development, and could have permanent and irreversible effects.
Children who are breastfed appear to have higher IQs. Both iron and iodine deficiencies have a negative impact on children’s brain development and their achievements.
Children who are poorly nourished are more prone to infections, and the resulting frequent absences from school could make them fail to keep up with the rest of the children in their class. They will also tend to be less active, be less social and be less curious.
Undernutrition is responsible for nearly half of the deaths in children under the age of 5. Poor nutrition can also lead to stunted physical growth and mental development.
The Ajuga Initiative
Cipla’s Ajuga Initiative is aimed at ensuring that children have at least two years of pre-school education, nutrition and health care, which would give children solid building blocks for the future, enabling them to become productive, healthy and valuable members of the community.
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