Report by Ribca Ralph, Trainee Sub Editor, Impact SEPLAA.
The 2nd UNICEF consultative workshop with NGOs & CBOs on “Review of Child Rights Policies, Legislation and laws in Punjab” was held on the 22nd of July, 2013 at Royal Palm Golf & Country Club, Lahore.
Ms. Shagufta Bhatti (Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF) touched briefly upon the topic under discussion for the session bringing it up during the introductions at the start. The crux of the matter was to review child related laws and the role of different departments required to identify vital areas that have a lot of room for improvement.
Amal Farooq Malik (Founder, SEPLAA Young Leaders’ Club) shed light upon the very first area: prenatal care of children. The nine and a half year old shared her experience at the organization she runs where children between the ages of eight to twelve form groups to work towards a social cause. The first lesson delivered to the children at SEPLAA YLC was about Malala Yousafzai, two weeks before she was shot. Amal explained with her own personal example that setbacks should never hold us back in our pursuit for education.
Amal stressed upon the significance of parents being educated before a child is born unto them. This is crucial to avoid genetic diseases such as thalassemia. Over 150,000 children suffer from thalassemia. “There are no programs or departments under the Punjab government dealing with this issue,” she said disappointedly.
The discussion was taken forward by Ms. Ammara Farooq Malik who said that laws regarding premarital compulsory blood screening have already been passed in KPK and Sindh, but, Punjab still lacks it. Faulty parts recognized in the birth registration area included registration fees problems and the cumbersome registration process that needs to be followed.
It was recognized that the previous government has made amendments to laws pertaining to postnatal care in 2012, but, since then there has been no implementation of breast feeding laws and vaccination laws specifically. Laws should also be made to counter national emergency situations such as dengue/measles. Accountability remains a rigid issue in this area as well.
Complete report can be viewed here.