19.10.2004 Regional News

African tradition has a lot to boost child survival - Expert

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From: Eunice Menka, GNA Special Correspondence, Dakar, Senegal.

Dakar, Oct. 19, GNA - Mr Amirou Garba Sidikou, Secretary-Genegal, of the Association of Traditional Leaders of Niger, on Tuesday said African populations had lots of traditional values which could boost child survival and protection.

According to him, the African culture was embedded with principles that touched on the welfare of children who were considered as symbol of one's immortality even after the death of parent.

Speaking at a Pan African Forum on building trust for immunisation and child survival with religious and traditional leaders and the media in Dakar, Senegal, Mr Sidikou said one could only become an ancestor if one gives birth during one's lifetime and as such children were considered a legacy against oblivion or death and finality. It is for this reason that children needed to be protected against all types of mistreament and harm, he said.

Mr Sidikou, who was speaking on the topic: "Perspective for immunisation and child survival in African tradition." said it was imperative that issues such as child prostitution were adequately dealt with to protect children.

He said traditional rulers had a significant role to play in helping to address immunisation and child survival since they were at the grassroots in the communities.

Dr Ezzeldin El Sawy, Vice President of Al Azhar University in Egypt, who spoke on immunisation and child survival in Islam, said vaccination serves the purpose of Sharia because it promotes self-preservation as emphasised by the prophet.

"The fundamental tradition of the prophets states that harm not yourself or others," he explained.

Dr Sawy said there was the need to counter false information on immunisation in Islamic states, adding that statistics indicated there was about 68 percent immunisation coverage in Moslem countries.

This, he said, was less than the coverage in some developing countries.

He said information that vaccination transmitted lethal diseases such HIV/AIDS were false.

Some 32 countries from Africa are represented at the conference.

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