Coronavirus Must Be Beaten Everywhere If It Is to Be Beaten Anywhere
The coronavirus pandemic has provided a stark reminder of our shared humanity, common interests and joint responsibilities. No country, rich or poor, is immune to the devastation in the wake of COVID-19. No country can defeat a virus ‘that knows no borders’ by acting alone. This virus must be beaten everywhere if it is to be beaten anywhere. Every country, institution, and organization has a responsibility to combat this disease – at home and abroad.
Save the Children has been on the front lines of COVID-19 since the beginning. Across the 120 countries in which we work, our immediate priority is to prevent and manage the pandemic. We have seen the coronavirus overwhelm the health systems of some of the world’s richest countries. It is now vital that the world’s poorest countries, with the most limited health systems, put in place the defenses needed to save lives. Those defenses include the provision of protective equipment, training health workers and community education.
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Through the generous support of our donors, Save the Children will do everything in its power to protect children and defend child rights at home and around the globe. We are supporting children and their families everywhere we work. Here are three examples of how our work to protect children across the world from coronavirus is making a difference.
Save the Children is one of the leading health providers in the sprawling camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which is home to nearly 855,000 Rohingya refugees – the largest refugee camp in the world. Due to the already poor conditions in the camps, projections for the impact of COVID-19 are dire. Over the next year, one estimate from the Johns Hopkins University predicts over 500,000 infections in the camps. Even in this young population, and with a low-transmission scenario, researchers project as many as 2,000 deaths. If drastic measures are not taken immediately, healthcare capacity will be overwhelmed by the end of April.
In response, Save the Children is working with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization to safeguard our health centers to ensure the continuation of essential services. We plan to develop isolation spaces within health posts to maintain infection prevention and control for the safety of staff and patients. We also plan to repurpose our inpatient clinic for isolation and treatment, and we will establish a treatment center with up to 200 beds for COVID-19 patients. Closely linked with these activities, we will build on our existing network of community-based volunteers to raise awareness among the community, help detect and refer those with symptoms, support families to provide supportive care at household level, and promote good hygiene practices and social distancing where possible. We will also work with camp management to explore structural changes and camp layout revisions to help shield the most vulnerable.
Italy and Spain
The extent of COVID-19 in Europe has shocked the world. Save the Children, through its existing footprint in all major countries in Europe, has been one of the first organizations to respond to the needs and risks facing children and families.
In Italy, among the worst-affected countries in the world to date, we have rapidly established a response for the country’s most vulnerable children, adolescents and families, including unaccompanied migrant children. We are supporting distance learning in the face of school closures through a range of activities, such as distributing tablets and learning materials to disadvantaged children.
We are also offering psychosocial support to parents and children. Our experts have offered tips and resources to help parents talk through the pandemic with children as well as cope with their own stress. To support children who have lost family members to coronavirus, we are developing psychosocial support programs that enable kids to process complex emotions.
For those children who rely on school for meals, we are providing food.
In Spain, we have already reached over 3,000 children and their families with similar support. We are working with social workers and supporting psychologists to assist families in coping with stress, and we are providing monthly cash transfers to some of the most vulnerable families to meet their essential household needs, especially nutrition. In all these activities, we are developing and using new tools, resources to deliver this work in the constrained context of the pandemic.
Schools in Sierra Leone were closed for nine months during the Ebola epidemic that killed nearly 4,000 people in the country and deprived 1.8 million children of a full academic year of school. In order to ensure children continued to learn from home, Save the Children developed lessons to broadcast over radio, working with 724 teachers to reach almost 104,000 primary school children. We scripted, delivered and broadcasted these lessons together with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and local radio stations.
We are working to replicate and continue these live radio programs during school closures caused by COVID-19. We are currently setting up training for teachers to prepare, script and deliver effective, interactive lessons.
We’re All in This Together
In fragile places like conflict zones, refugee camps, and overcrowded communities, where people are already struggling to survive, COVID-19 could have a devastating impact. Preparedness and slowing the spread of this virus will mean the difference between life and death
Early action is critical because delay will cost lives, increase child poverty, and rob children of opportunities. Save the Children is launching its biggest ever emergency appeal to respond to the biggest ever humanitarian crisis we have faced. Please help us to make a difference and Protect a Generation.
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