04.08.2006 Social News

Sexually abused children need protocol

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Nana Oye Lithur, Africa Regional Coordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHI), has called for the establishment of a protocol to deal with child victims of sexual assault.

She said such a protocol should focus on psychological effects of abuse; HIV/AIDS prevention and healing of physical injuries and to create a training regime for health care providers. Speaking at this year's Ghana Medical Association's (GMA) Seventh Annual Public Lecturers on: "Legal: Perspective and Child Right", Nana Lithur said though the revised Reproductive Health Policy had gender based violence as a component, no protocol and guideline was established.

The two-day lectures under the theme: "Child Abuse in Ghana" would provide the platform for discussions by researchers and stakeholders on the issue.

The lectures would in the end build consensus that would culminate in the development of effective care and support systems for affected children.

Nana Lithur noted that about 50 per cent of victims of child abuse experienced depression during their first year of attack and such abused children suffered emotional trauma; risky sexual behaviours in adolescence and adulthood; increased risky gynaecological disorders, which left them with long term medical and emotional consequences. She said it was unfortunate that Ghana had no training on forensic medicine or forensic nursing to go through forensic examination with abused children and called for the need to train people to specialise in performing paediatric forensic medicine.

Paediatric forensic examination is the clinical history and examination, detailed documentation including photo documentation and the use of line drawing as well as any relevant forensic samples, writing a report and arranging any necessary aftercare. It is the responsibility of every examiner to ensure that there is a therapeutic and supportive environment for the child during medical examination.

She called for the training of health care providers on how to handle child abuse cases and also to have sexual abuse centres to comfort and heal victims of child abuse including that of victims of rape as being done in South Africa.

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