Chair Dr Fyezah Jehan, AKUH CMO Dr Asim Belgaumi and the head of the organizing committee for World Children's Day, Vice Chair Dr Ali Faisal Saleem admire the winning art submissions on November 20, 2023 at AKU's sports centre.

A day to stop and think of the world's children​

The Department of Paediatrics & Child Health took a pause the week of November 20 to reflect on the cause

Should one even “celebrate" World Children's Day this year? This was the awkward question that hovered around the Department of Paediatrics & Child Health at AKU this October and November as we began preparations. It was hard to address the elephant in the room.

Come November 20, Monday, though, Dr Fyezah Jehan, the chair of the Department of Paediatrics & Child Health, was able to address this very question. She addressed the participants after they took part in a symbolic walk around the sports centre track to kick off World Children's Week at AKU. “We see so many children around the world being denied their rights, leading us to question the celebration of World Children's Day," she said. “However, after thoughtful consideration and dialogue with our faculty, leadership, and advocates for children's rights, we recognize the profound importance of this day, more so this year with its theme, Every Child Has Every Right." These rights go beyond the basics of family, education, and sanitation. They also mean the right to a secure environment, nurturing care, and good health.

One minute of silence was observed for the children of Gaza.

For his part, AKUH CEO Dr Farhat Abbas was also able to provide some comfort and insight. “I would like to congratulate everyone who has been invested in bringing this event together and to everyone who is currently here to celebrate this day," he said to the small crowd. “Because as much as it is a question of whether it should be celebrated or not given whatever has been happening in the world, I feel it is more of an endorsement of the importance and the cause."

Farhat Abbas went on to quote satirist Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi: “Children are truly amazing—the only problem is that they grow up."

​​And so, the small crowd that had assembled for the walk laughed. It consisted of AKU faculty, managers and staff, nurses, residents and fellows, teachers and students from the schools who were invited to take part. No neonates participated, but their absence was understandable.​

“[Children] are not just our future," Dr Farhat Abbas went on to say, “they are our present." His take on well-worn cliché served as a reminder that it is very much today's children who deserve the world's attention.

After the walk, the winners of the art competition were announced. The participating schools were: The City School, Foundation Public School, Happy Home School, and Dawood Public School.

The winners are, by category:

​Grades 3-5
​Barrira Moin Paracha of Dawood Public School
​M. Siddiqui of Foundation Public School and Aiza Khan of Happy Home School 
​S. Yousuf Ahmed of Foundation Public School
​Grades 6-8
​Rumaiysa Ahmed of Dawood Public School 
​Hadiya Sakina of Foundation Public School
​Hafsa Irfan of Happy Home School along with Warisha Umair of Dawood Public School
​Grades 9-10
​Rida Umair from Happy Home School
​Aleezay Malik from Foundation Public School
​Marzia Raza from Dawood Public School 

Dean Adil Haider offered a quick reminder that AKU not only serves Pakistan's children with research but it offers an education. “At the university and the Medical College we aim to create the best possible educational programs," he said. AKU has its own national board Of Intermediate and Secondary Education and recently welcomed its first batch of undergraduates to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  

On the second day of World Children's week, the team headed to the wards, where cake, face painting and a magic show had been organized. Dr. Fyezah Jehan spoke to the patients about why World Children's Day was being celebrated. Each patient went away with a goodie bag.

On the third day, the Paediatric Community Health Center was transformed into an educational hub, where the department of dentistry's stall taught delighted children how to brush and floss with a variety of toothbrushes. AKU's nurses had a stall about a 'Health Food Plate' to teach about balanced diets.