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16.06.2005 General News

The home is the best place for the child - Minister

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Accra, June 16, GNA - Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs on Thursday said the best place for the child, be it an orphan or otherwise is the home with the family. She said as a country, "we need to develop systems and strategies to support families to do this."

Hajia Mahama was making a statement in Parliament on the occasion of African Union Day of the African Child. She said, "we need to reinvigorate our traditional extended family value of providing care and support for orphans." According to her, the stigmatisation and discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS by society had contributed to extended families shirking their traditional responsibilities of care and support for orphans.

The Minister called on all pregnant women now and in the future to go for voluntary counselling and testing. She said this was important because it had proven to be the critical path that could substantially mitigate mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS. "Where the pregnant woman test positive she can then go through the programme and steps designed for preventing mother to child transmission."

Hajia Mahama said the Ministry together with Ministry of Education and Sports, other ministries, UNICEF and the World Bank had outlined HIV/AIDS guidance to ensure that Ghanaians respond to specific needs of infected and affected children.

The Member of Parliament for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei Opare in another statement appealed to religious leaders, chiefs, queenmothers, MPs and all Ghanaians to help in various ways to eliminate child labour in the country and provide a better future for the children. She said in Ghana children aged five years and above were commonly seen assisting in the household chores such as cooking, taking care of babies or on the farms whilst others assisted in the family trade or business.

"Some adults all over the country are unfortunately abusing this traditional social system and it is this abuse we are concerned with." She said government on its part had over the years, taken adequate steps through legislation, policies and other initiatives to protect the rights of children and protect their well-being. Mrs Osei Opare said other potential legislation such as Human Trafficking Bill, the Domestic Violence Bill and the Street Children Policy, which were being drafted would substantially reduce in-gaps in the current legislation.

The MP said the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) document pointed out child labour as a national problem not only because it contributed to school drop-out but also bred another cycle of people who most likely would be less well-off or end up in poverty later. She said the term child labour did not encompass all economic activity undertaken by children, rather it referred to employment or work carried out by children that did not conform to the provisions of national legislation - the Children Act and international instruments such as the ILO Convention.