The COVID 19 pandemic, an international, mutual enemy the world is presently battling, has, despite considerable efforts, persisted. This is observed from the continuous rise in the number of cases and deaths due to the virus.
In different countries, different strategies have been employed to fight the spread of the virus. Although these strategies are necessary, they have harmed the socio-economic status of these countries affecting a wide range of people. Children, unfortunately, are not left out of the effects of the virus, whether directly via infection with the virus or indirectly through the effects of the policies being put in place to combat the spread of the virus.
Different aspects of children and young people’s lives are being impacted negatively, with those from less privileged
homes being affected most. According to an written by UNICEF Innocenti, Professor Frances Stewart said,
Children in poor countries will suffer above all from the economic effects of the pandemic. In particular are the
consequences of the huge recession in developed countries following lockdown and their lockdown measures, worsening
markets and reducing employment, household earnings, and government revenue in poor countries.
These and more are being seen in Nigeria with markets being opened for trading on alternate days, salaries being slashed,
schools being closed, poor access to good health facilities and a huge increase in the cost of living amongst others.
For children, a school is not only a place of formal learning but also a place of interaction with other people within their age bracket, in an environment structured to support that. Schools play an important role in promoting the importance of personal hygiene, physical activity, social interaction and body habit and according to Ritwik et al, the shutdown of educational institutions and home captivity is anticipated to have detrimental effects on children’s physical and mental health and will shatter the sense of normalcy that schools used to provide. Besides, childhood obesity and reduced cardiorespiratory fitness will be the result of the long-term physical inactivity, irregular sleep patterns, unfavourable diet plans, sedentary lifestyle, longer smartphone/television screen time that is being practised now. Another thing to be concerned over is the widening gap in the education between children from financially stable homes who can afford remote learning and those from homes who cannot afford the necessary materials for remote learning like laptops, android phones, internet connection etc. and the extra fees they may be required to pay.
Last but not the least, according to Caroline .B et al, domestic violence rates have been on the rise this period and children are usually affected whether physically or psychologically in homes where domestic violence occurs.
Measures being adopted to control the COVID 19 crisis are accompanied by their challenges. However, they are, matter-of-factly, needful and play a role in solving the problem at hand. Therefore parents and caregivers and other family members of these children need to pay a lot of attention to their children, keep them engaged with remote learning if it is one they can afford or if they can’t, tune in to the Wazobia Fm or Wazobia TV lessons provided by the Nigerian government in the states where these apply. They should also endeavour to keep their children within sight always or entrust them to the care of trusted family members.
Also, parents and caregivers should try to incorporate children friendly healthy lifestyle choices in their day to day living, ranging from healthier food options to daily children friendly exercises to help keep the children healthy and fit.