Many MOUs, Reports, Law Book and Lahore Declaration on Child Rights launched

The 1st South-Asia Regional Conference on Child Rights and 12th National Child Rights Conference of Pakistan Pediatric Association was held at University of Lahore Defense Road Campus from November 15th to 17th, 2017. The conference was attended by a multidisciplinary group of doctors, health professionals, psychologists, teachers, lawyers, government functionaries, legislators, child care givers, duty bearers, media and parents plus the young people from UOL and different Universities and Colleges. The total number of registered participants was more than 2200 including participants of youth program, workshops, seminars and lectures. Highlights of the inaugural session were 3 MOU signing ceremonies, including one between UOL and Children Heart Foundation for carrying out more than 500 Children Heart Surgeries in UOL Teaching Hospital free of cost, second between Children Heart foundation and Shahid Afridi Foundation, and third between Shahid Afridi Foundation PAHCHAAN (Protection and Help of Children Against Abuse and Neglect) and ISPCAN (International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) for protecting school children. Other than that, a WHO IPA (International Pediatric Association) Human Rights and Health report was launched, one ISSOP (International Society for Social and Preventive Pediatrics), IPA, PPA (Pakistan Pediatric Association) policy paper on Violence against Children was launched. PAHCHAAN launched its book on Laws related to Child Rights. This was followed by celebration of 40th ISPCAN anniversary and then an inaugural dinner with a social program. In the conference, there were 2 Keynote talks by Presidents of IPA and ISPCAN respectively, 12 Plenary and 3 video talks by International speakers, 21 invited talks mostly by national experts, and 11 free papers along with 15 poster paper presentations. There were 17 pre and post conference workshops and 4 lectures in major hospitals, schools and high court etc. The Youth was engaged in a very hectic 3-day Youth program discussing online safety and Child Abuse. Besides these deliberations there was a series of activities for youths that included painting competitions, short-film presentations, plenary talks, quizzes, social nights, and short plays which were memorable part of this forum. A Children Film Festival was also held which included child rights related movies, songs from Chrissy Sykes on Child Protection, A video documentary by Hameeda Lakho on Child Sexual Abuse and a panel discussion between film celebrities on Children Media was also displayed. “Lahore Declaration on Child Rights – 2017” was unanimously approved during the concluding ceremony. This included recommendations on all 11 sub-themes of the conference and it was decided that the theme “promoting and defending child rights in South Asia” in the form of concrete practical interventions to be taken during the next few years. Some of the recommendations that were suggested were; government collaboration with civil society organizations on child rights; child rights to be promoted at all levels; research on children be given priority; government to take the necessary actions to eliminate child labor and exploitation of children; and to prevent all forms of violence against children. Thematic groups were formed on each of the sub-themes which was led by the focal persons from different organizations and coordinated by PAHCHAAN (Protection and Help of Children against Abuse and Neglect) and Department of Child Rights UOL. The Thematic groups formulated an agenda for the next two years as a way forward and will continue to work beyond the conference. UOL Chairman Board of Governors, Mr Awais Raoof, welcomed global icons and local child rights experts in the conference. Dr. Naeem Zafar, Conference Chair shared that, “This conference will be a game changer for the rights of children.” While Dr. Tufail Muhammad (President Elect ISPCAN) said, “It was a great opportunity to understand child rights from a local and a global perspective.” World class speakers including Prof Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta (President IPA), Prof Bernard Gerbaka (President ISPCAN), Ms Jenny Gray OBE (Past President ISPCAN), Ms Joan van Niekerk (Past President ISPCAN), Dr Tufail Muhammad (President Elect ISPCAN), and Dr Shanti Raman (ISSOP Representative) were part of this conference. Shahid Khan Afridi also showed appreciation by contributing through a video message which was displayed at the conference. This conference was organized by PAHCHAAN, Child Right Department UOL, Pakistan Pediatric Association (Punjab), Pakistan Pediatric Association-Child Rights Committee, and SAPCAN, in collaboration with the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), and VCAN student society. It was sponsored by UOL, UNICEF, Plan Pakistan, and Pharmaceutical companies.

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