UNICEF urgently needs $42.3 million to scale up its response to the Covid-19 virus outbreak and support global efforts to contain it, providing critical medical supplies, and supporting children in affected outbreak areas. “The immediate focus is to reduce human to human transmission but also to help children in areas where their access to essential services has been disrupted,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore.
The preliminary funds will support UNICEF’s work to reduce the transmission of the virus including by strengthening risk communication and tackling misinformation so that children, pregnant women and their families know how to prevent Covid-19 spread and where to seek assistance. To mitigate the broader impact of the outbreak, UNICEF also plans to support distance learning opportunities for children who can’t access school and to provide mental health and psychosocial support to children and families affected. “We are especially concerned by the possible secondary impact of the outbreak” Fore said. “It is critical that children’s access to learning, health, nutrition and protection services is not affected.”
UNICEF is working closely with local Governments, World Health Organization, other United Nations and Humanitarian team partners in developing contingency plans in other regions, especially in countries with weaker health systems and limited capacity to deal with major disease outbreaks. In line with WHO’s COVID-2019 Strategic Response Plan, UNICEF will respond to the outbreak by focusing on limiting human-to-human transmission and mitigating the impact of the outbreak on the health system and affected communities. This includes response or preparedness activities that:
1- Facilitate and strengthen risk communication and community engagement activities, including through community based communication, mass media and social media;
2- Provide critical hygiene and medical supplies for health care and education structures;
3- Ensure that children, pregnant and lactating women, and vulnerable communities who are impacted by the outbreak are supported with adequate health care;
4- Assess and curtail the secondary effects of the outbreak, including by facilitating continued access to education where schools may be closed or quarantines imposed; and address protection needs, including through the provision of psychosocial support to those directly or indirectly affected.
Additional support requests from governments have also been received from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam, especially in relation to risk communication, medical supplies, distance learning and personal protective equipment. UNICEF is liaising with governments, local WHO counterparts and other partners to conduct contingency planning across all regions, including South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, West and Central Africa, Europe and Central Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean.