SESRIC launched the State of Children in OIC Countries report during the 5th Islamic Conference of Ministers in Charge of Childhood, held in Rabat, Morocco on 21-22 February 2018, under the theme: “Towards a Safe Childhood”.
The main highlights of the report were presented by Mr Mazhar Hussain, Researcher at SESRIC, during the conference, which was organised to implement the resolution of the 4th Islamic Conference of Ministers in Charge of Childhood held in Baku, Azerbaijan in November 2013.
The report offers a comprehensive analysis of the state of children in OIC countries by looking into the latest comparable data and trends on child health and well-being, child nutrition and food security, basic education and schooling and child protection and welfare.
According to the findings of the report the OIC countries are characterized by the youngest demographic distribution, with over one-third of the population below age 15. This underlines the huge demand for health care, schooling, food, recreation, and social protection and welfare services for the infants and young children.
“Over the years, many OIC countries have made significant progress in terms of fulfilling children’s right to health, with more resources than ever been invested in the primary health care services,” the report says.
There are important country success stories within the OIC group in implementing interventions like antenatal care, skilled attendance during birth, immunization, and early care seeking for pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria. These efforts paid off and child mortality has declined by 52% since 1990. However, despite this remarkable progress, the OIC countries as a group made the least progress in reducing child deaths.
Furthermore, the report emphasises the fact that child nutrition and food security is another major area of concern in the OIC countries. As a result, not only the risk of child death from common illness such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, and malaria remained quite elevated in OIC countries, but many children are also suffering from physical and cognitive impairments caused by the malnutrition and deficiencies of vital micronutrients like vitamin A, iodine and iron. In 2010-2015, around one-third of children in OIC countries were stunted, 18% were underweight, 9% were wasted and 6% were overweight.
“Though these complications are largely preventable and curable through proper child feeding practices recommended by the WHO and UNICEF, only 39% of infants in OIC countries were put to the breast within the first hour of birth, 33% were exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life, and 58% of infants were introduced to complementary foods at 6 to 8 months,” the report says.
Since the 1990s, OIC member countries have made a significant improvement in terms of literacy, enrolment and completion rates. However, OIC member countries, on average, still have a long way to reach the level of developed countries in terms of literacy, enrolment and completion rates. In terms of adequacy of education services for children, OIC member countries, on average, are lagging behind non-OIC developing countries. For instance, in terms of government expenditures per pupil, OIC member countries, on average, spend $928 per pupil whereas the average of non-OIC developing countries is $1860 in the same year. In terms of quality of education for children, OIC member countries also encounter problems. One major problem is the existence of crowded classrooms in the OIC group where student-teacher ratios are remarkably higher than those seen in the developed countries.
According to the data offered by the report, child labour is one of the worst forms of exploitations widespread across the developing countries, including many OIC members. Though child labour is prohibited in the majority of OIC countries, 17% of children aged 5 to 14 were still trapped in child labour in 2009-2015. In general, boys are more likely to be engaged in child labour than the girls. Among the OIC regional groups, the prevalence of child labour remained highest in SSA and SA regions, which are currently home to nearly half of OIC’s total children 5 to 14 years old.
Furthermore, conflicts in OIC member countries constitute a major threat to children’s well-being, by leading often to death and injuries, destroying infrastructure, creating a chaotic environment where violence and abuse cannot be controlled, and displacing children from their families and countries. Overall, the number of conflicts is on the rise in the OIC region in recent years where each year, increasing the number of children suffering from conflicts at varying degrees,” the report concludes.
Online electronic version of the report