The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Ghana, has organised a day's workshop for media practitioners to upgrade their knowledge of the impact of the coronavirus on children in Ghana.
According to UNICEF, in addition to the school closures and disruption in learning, there have been fewer parents accessing health services or ensuring routine immunizations for their children.
Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Country Representative in Ghana, reiterated that the lockdowns and school closures had affected children's education, mental health, and access to basic health services; adding that the risks of violence, abuse, and exploitation were also higher than ever.
She noted that in Ghana, the Greater Accra Region continued to be one of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus.
She said the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, and the mitigating measures put in place had affected children.
She said that it was the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure a duty of care upon those most marginalized, to advocate for their rights and well-being, and to throw a spotlight on factors that might be impeding their development and growth.
Madam Dufay therefore, urged the media to be stronger advocates for children, "sharing compelling stories from the field, and disseminating critical information.
Mr Ramesh Bhusal, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Officer at UNICEF, said about 50 per cent of schools in Ghana did not have handwashing facilities, noting that, these were some of the challenges amidst the pandemic.
He underscored the need for the media to hold duty bearers accountable, by asking "what is being done to enhance WASH services delivery".
Mr Madeez Adamu-Issah, Education Specialist at UNICEF said the longer children were out of school; the greater the impact on learning, especially on vulnerable children; and the greater the risk of pregnancy among school girls, sexual abuse, child marriage, and other dangers.
He said UNICEF was assisting the Ministry of Education/Ghana Education Service to roll out radio lessons in all core subjects from kindergarten to junior high school form three, saying, these distance/radio programmes though initially planned as remedial, were likely to remain as complementary teaching/learning programmes when schools reopen.
Mr Felix Osei Sarpong, Health Specialist at UNICEF, also stated that immunization campaigns were suspended, whereas, more than 32,000 children were unvaccinated in the first quarter of 2020.
He said research had shown that in low and middle-income countries, an additional 1.2 million children and 56,700 mothers could die in six months due to disruption in basic interventions.
Madam Offeibea Baddoo, the Communications Officer of UNICEF Ghana, also underscored the need for journalists to protect the rights of children through ethical reporting.
She said giving out names and using images of victims of child abuse in their publications would end up exposing such individuals to public ridicule or a large extent promote stigmatization.