This study is about the ability of Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in sustaining marginalized children’s right to health. NGOs are organizations that are independent of any government. Typically NGOs are made up of activists devoted to working on particular issues according to a set of principled ideas or values. Within the liberal paradigm of international law, NGOs help bridge the gap between law and policy; thereby becoming useful citizens of the global community (Breen, 2003). In Uganda and other African states today, there are a lot of NGOs out there trying to analyze situations of child right to health being abused, propose human rights instruments, and avail possible strategies. Though these can be adapted, greater concerns for the study are on the extent to which NGOs can put to proper use the human rights instruments, correctly diagnosing situations of children’s rights to health being marginalized and thereafter sustainably provide the right strategies to sustain the marginalized children’s right to health.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Among the issues NGOs are concerned include children’s relationships with the law and this has raised concerns about the proper protection of marginalized child rights, given children’s vulnerability and dependence on adults. Sheehan (2003) argues that Children’s rights are not precisely equivalent to those enjoyed by adults. Therefore, because of their inexperience and dependence, they are treated differently by the legal process.
By their nature, human rights are universal because they are derived from the inherent dignity of each individual person and are the birthright of all human beings, children included (Chapman, 1993., Vienna Declaration, 1993). Human rights assume a special concern for rectifying historical and other imbalances and meeting the needs and rights of poor, disadvantaged and marginalized children, individuals and populations (Chapman, 1993). A variety of human rights are implicated in a rights-based approach to health because realizing the right to health is dependent upon attaining other human rights (Committee on Economic, social and Cultural Rights, 2000). Therefore, children’s Health rights construed as a child’s right to health care and a child’s right to conditions that promote good health (Asher, 2004), are not to be viewed as unreasonable demands. They are entitlements borne out of specific obligations that individual children claim from states. According to Chapman (1993), because child rights are not taken seriously, children suffer most from the effects of ill health. This is due in large part to as children have the least reliable access to adequate health services and healthy living conditions, often as a result of neglect or discrimination.
Through the 1989 UN convention on the rights of the child, African states including Uganda pledged to put the interests of the child first but despite this pledge marginalized children are denied their right to health (Ochola, 1996). In Uganda, the health sector has failed to address the fact that marginalized children have not only been neglected but discriminated of their right to access health care and conditions that promote good health, thus leaving the burden for NGOs to sustain marginalized children’s rights to health. For example, according to MFPED (2002), Task Force on Infant and Maternal Mortality (2003), and UBOS (2001), because of high poverty levels, only 6, 651,165 of the 13, 302, 330 children in Uganda have access to health care and nutrition. The inadequacy in access of such health right has compelled children and child mothers to give in for sexual exploitation for survival, live on city streets without shelter and as a result; 40% of the 134 children out of every 1000 live births die due to malnutrition and never celebrate their fifth birthday; child mothers die of HIV/AIDS; while 38% of the children are stunted due to other neglected...
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