- UNICEF has highlighted the importance of increased social welfare workforce in Nigeria
- The agency said Nigeria loses $6.1 billion of its earning to violence against children
- According to UNICEF, there is need for Nigeria to have a strong social work workforce as a critical means to achieving the SDGs
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that Nigeria loses $6.1 billion of its earning to violence against children.
The international agency said the money lost by Nigeria to violence against children accounts to 1.07% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking at a media dialogue on social work professionalisation bill, a child protection specialist, Maryam Enyiazu, said child protection issues are costly to societies.
Enyiazu said research has shown that abuse and maltreatment, for example, can lead to life-long physical and mental health problems in children and also negatively impact boys’ and girls’ brain development and educational achievement.
She said this studies have explored the economic and societal impact of childhood violence and neglect as the estimated economic value that Nigeria lost due to some selected health consequences of violence against children in 2014 amounted to US $ 8.9 billion, which represents 1.58 % of the country’s GDP
"The total loss of earnings attributable to childhood VAC was US $6.1 billion, accounting for 1.07 % of Nigeria’s GDP.
"Child protection issues are costly and we cannot afford to sit down and play with these issues. We can't call them (children) leaders of tomorrow when we have not done enough or put the necessary things in place to take care of them," she said.
Enyiazu added that there is need for Nigeria to have a strong social work workforce as a critical means to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Stating that social welfare workforce is critical to achieving the SDG, Enyiazu said the goals cannot be achieved without a strong and locally-based social service workforce - who are usually involved in community development services, growth and mental health services, career guidance, substance abuse, care for the elderly among many others.
She also noted that the issues militating against social welfare workforce in Nigeria include: under resource, under funding, misunderstanding of the roles of social workers and under appreciation of the workers in the field.
"We must work together to protect and improve the health and well-being of children, youth, families and communities as outlined in the SDGs.
"These outcomes will only be achieved with a strong social welfare workforce strengthened by regulatory mechanism to ensure licensing, certification and registration backed by political financing, technical and moral support," Enyizu added.
Also speaking, Ibrahim Contech , the UNICEF chief of Enugu field office said there could not have been a better time as Nigeria copes with some socio-economic challenges that continue to undermine sustainable development for vulnerable children and their families.
Contech said the issues of high prevalence of violence against children, conflicts ,terrorism, high number of out of school children ,unemployment rate among other challenges highlight the importance of overhauling the social work profession in Nigeria.
He said this will enable it play its crucial role of supporting the vulnerable population more effectively in mitigating these vicissitudes which undermine access to quality life for children and their families.
"UNICEF as the agency mandated by the UN general assembly to promote the rights of the chidren is committed in supporting partnerships and initiatives to achieve the goal of having a legislation to professionalise the social work profession," Contech said.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that a report said that across Africa, there are 85 million children under the age of five who are yet to be registered. Among these unregistered under five children, 35 million of them are from Nigeria.
The report clearly noted that only about 8% of the under five children born in Nigeria are duly registered.
A UNICEF child protection specialist, Sharon Oladiji, said there is need for a sustained birth registration process in Nigeria.
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