Medi-snippets: Child abuse begins at home | Sunday Observer

Medi-snippets: Child abuse begins at home

When parents leave their young children in the care of others to seek employment abroad it could result in physical, emotional, psychological harm that leaves long lasting scars, Senior Lecturer, Paediatric Faculty of Medical Science, University of Sri Jayawardenepura and President of Sri Lanka Association for Child Development (SLACD) Dr. Saraji Wijesekara told the Sunday Observer. She was responding to World Children’s Day messages observed on October 1 which emphasised the role of parents in minimizing risks of abuse that children are exposed to daily. “As responsible parents we should protect them from such abuse. It is their right which is enshrined in the Constitution, ” she stressed.

Among the most vulnerable and least protected children, she noted, were the disabled children as well as those whose parents are prison inmates, drug addicts and engaged in drugs trafficking. “We should collaborate with state and non governmental institutions, the National Child Protection Authority, police personnel responsible for women and children’s affairs, to prevent and minimise their risk of abuse which hurts them for life”, she emphasized.

Referring to free access to legal help for such children, she said, legal justice for disabled abused children was a ‘grossly neglected area’. “These children’s rights are hidden due to certain legislations that prohibit their expression. They are abused in the home, in school and in children’s homes, both physically and sexually, due to their ignorance.”

Referring to malnutrition which continued to prevail leading to low IQ and stunting she said, malnutrition if intended deliberately was also a form of abuse as children needed balanced nourishing diets for their growing bodies.

Commenting on early motherhood thrust on young children she said “These young mothers are themselves children. Their bodies are not fit to carry the fetus and delivery is often painful. They also lack coping skills which add to their trauma. It affects both mother and baby for life.”

On rape of children, especially girls, which she lamented was on an upward curve judging from daily news reports, she said the fact that most of the perpetrators are often persons they trust most, which further aggravates the emotional and psychological harm they suffer. She warned that it could also prevent a girl from enjoying a normal sexual relationship in later life.

Influenza rise predicted

Health officials have alerted the public to avoid getting wet in the rain due to the onset of the second peak stage of seasonal influenza (flu).

Officials told the Sunday Observer that the currently circulating strains of influenza in the country causing human infection were Influenza A ( H1N1, H3N2 and B). “Influenza occurs throughout the year with two peaks in May, June and July and again in November, December and January”, they said adding that the initial symptoms of the influenza infection could mimic a common cold and patients should watch out for the sudden onset of high fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose.

“Droplets from an infected patient can infect you if you’re within the proximity of one metre. Or you could get infected by direct contact with an infected person using the same handkerchief or cup to drink.

“Patients are at the risk of infecting others from a day before their symptoms appear up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children are also at risk. However, patients are no longer infectious 24 hours after the fever has subsided provided they have received 72 hours of anti influenza medication or seven days have lapsed since the onset of respiratory symptoms”, they pointed out.

Health sources also urged the public not to panic when they get a cold and fever, as most people recover from the fever and other symptoms within a week without requiring medical attention. However, they warned that influenza could cause severe illness in persons with high risk factors and urged those persons to seek medical care without delay to avoid complications.

They advised the public to carry umbrellas during rains, and avoid getting wet unnecessarily. “If they get wet they should immediately change their clothes and drink something hot”, a health source said.

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