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Vulnerable Children in Nigeria


 
With high priority of The National Government and International Stakeholders across the Globe, there are negative outcomes of the growing of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) population worldwide. It is recognized that such negative outcome is of a result of the issue with the social, economic and human rights dimensions (Boston University Center for Global Health and Development: Initiative for Integrated Community Welfare Nigeria, 2009).
With evidence based data, there is a huge proportion of orphans and vulnerable children. With the population of 187, 430, 718; the number of adults and children living with HIV is one of the highest in the world (Boston University Center for Global Health and Development: Initiative for Integrated Community Welfare Nigeria, 2009).
In Nigeria there has been a response to crisis of orphans and vulnerable children due to HIV/AIDS in largely community driven with the extended family providing the safety net for protection; care and support (HIV/AIDS: Problems Of Orphans; Vulnerable Children in Nigeria, 2013).
In 2003, 7 million of the population were orphans with an approximate of 1.8million which were affected with HIV/AIDS. The increasing level of poverty; as result of low resources, lack of basic credits and employment facilities, has jeopardized the realization of the wellbeing of orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria (HIV/AIDS: Problems Of Orphans; Vulnerable Children in Nigeria, 2013).
In Nigeria, 10.7% of the 69 million children are vulnerable (UNICEF, 2007), 10% of children are orphans, (7% in North-West to 17% in South-East), 10% in Rural, 11% in Urban, Benue state has the highest prevalence of orphans (25%), followed by Akwa Ibom (22%); while Niger state has the lowest (2.7%). Benue state has the highest prevalence of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) aged 6-17yrs (49%), followed by Imo (45%), and Rivers (41%); with Kwara having the lowest (9%) (NSAA, 2008). One of the important challenges in countries like Nigeria that have increased number of children infected or affected with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, is the need to assist families and communities to care for these children ((NDHS), 2008).
In some of the world’s poorest countries in Sub-Sharan Africa, the adverse effects of the AIDS Epidemic are felt more severely, where its consequences have been as upsurge in the sum of children orphaned as a result of death of both parent because of its complication. Orphans are not only affected by HIV/AIDS, but also makes children more vulnerable in a number of ways (The Impact of HIV/AIDS on children in Nigeria, 2015).
HIV/AIDS significantly affects children’s life and families of children’s caregivers. Parents of HIV positive children go through trauma of sickness and eventually death. Certain children carry the burden of caring for a sick parent and this may result to drop-out of school, and carry on the responsibilities of an adult (NSAA, 2008).  Due to parental HIV-related illness costs, and eventually death, this substantially reduces household resources, causes unemployment, or renders a caregiver jobless; which may lead to poor health care of a child, lack of education, and the nutritional status of child significantly declines.
Recent studies show that 17.5 million children are orphans or vulnerable children: 2.5million of these orphans are HIV/AIDS positive in Nigeria. The capacity and resources of the individuals and households have been overextended by the growing number of OVC and the complexity of their needs (Onoh, 2014)
Also, gender-related stereotypes; gender profiling and inequalities between men and women contribute to the public health problems in Nigeria (Effanga, 2014).

The OVC situation in the context of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria:
Orphans and children in very difficult circumstances have been of major concern in most child-enrolled programs before the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The OVC issue existed long before due to the fact that there are other causes of orphanage and vulnerability; which has significantly worsened by the impact of the AIDS Epidemic ((UMN), 2007).
Recent estimates show that there are about 1,800 new HIV infections every day, and 1,400 deaths from AIDS-related illness among children below the age of 15 (UNAIDS, 2007).  Children between this age are victimized for one in six AIDS-related deaths worldwide, and one in seven new HIV infections mostly through mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Many children are further infected with HIV through parental illness, or death from infection((UMN), 2007).
2006 Global AIDS epidemic shows that Nigeria had 930,000 children orphaned by AIDS at the end of 2005. New estimates show that 1.8-2million children are orphaned by AIDS in Nigeria, and  1 in every 10 households provides care for an orphan((UMN), 2007).

Socio-economic Ramifications to the OVC Issue:
Children suffer from psychological because of the experience of poverty resulting from loss of family income. Social dislocation, stigma, and discrimination, loss of childhood: children having the responsibilities of a caregiver towards a sick parent; siblings or other family members with HIV or anyother poor health conditions((UMN), 2007).

OVC Problem in Nigeria:
Globally, the position of youths echoes a deeping and widening neglect and invincibility of children in Nigeria. There has been a high steady prevalence of HIV/AIDS in 2005 as it declined from 5.8% to 4.45 in 2001,  since the HIV/AIDS incidence of a 13 years old child in 1986; which it has been estimated that a million chidren orphaned by AIDS were living in Nigeria (Onyebuchi, HI/AIDS: Problems of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Nigeria, 2003).
The impact of HIV/AIDS has had an increasing rate on a number of orphans: those who lost their parents to AIDS as a result; leaving them vulnerable. Although there is an insufficient available data, there has been a call of desperation for those who are social excluded, exploitation, and abuse facing a large percentage of orphaned children in Nigeria  (Onyebuchi, HI/AIDS: Problems of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Nigeria, 2003).
1.       39% of children are involved in sexualactivities
2.      43% of women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18;
3.      High rate of infant, child and adolescent mortality
4.      Unavailabilty of healthcare services
5.      Lack of education, poor school performance, the education enrollment is low
6.      Rejection of intra household: maltreatment, and abuse/harassment from other peers

With the estimation of previous studies, 40% children may have been involved in child trafficiking, drug trafficking, or engaged themselves in prostitution to earn money. An estimated population of 50million Nigerians below the age of 18 are from low income population, and 40% of them do not acquire primary education due to discrimination due to the result of HIV/AIDS  (Onyebuchi, HI/AIDS: Problems of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Nigeria, 2003)

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