By The UNICEF Club
How was UNICEF working before the pandemic?
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, better known as UNICEF, was founded on December 11, 1946, to continue the institutionalization of post-war relief work. Its original objective was to aid children who had been displaced during the global conflict of World War 2 (history.com). During the 1950s, UNICEF began to expand from Europe and post-war relief to more general world issues such as the poverty of children in developing countries. In the effort to ameliorate child health, UNICEF conducted campaigns against tuberculosis, yaws, leprosy and malaria among others. The organization also made provisions for environmental sanitation and publicly encouraged maternal and child healthcare education. UNICEF provided aid in third-world countries to produce and distribute low-cost but high-protein foods, and fostered programs to educate citizens in that vein (Britannica.com). In UNICEF’s health campaigns, 71 million children were tested for trachoma and 43 million of them were treated. With yaws, 425 million were examined and 23 million treated. UNICEF vaccinated 400 million children to defend against tuberculosis, treated millions for malaria, cured around 415 thousand of leprosy and established more than 12 thousand health centers (UNICEF.org). Having expanded beyond mere healthcare, the organization now supports children with education, protection, support, food and emergency healthcare, in the effort to achieve their goal of giving every child the rights that they should have.
How has UNICEF responded to the pandemic?
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, UNICEF has addressed the virus by stopping misinformation and promoting facts above fear. The organization gives tips and guidance to families on how to avoid the coronavirus and how to educate children about the pandemic, keeping children around the world connected to their education with reference to the coronavirus. Instruction is provided to people all over the world on handwashing procedures and how to stay healthy. UNICEF educates teenagers on how these teens can protect their mental health and their hygiene. UNICEF’s media team works around the clock to provide the public with the latest news and information from press releases, statements, and other media releases. In various countries around the world, UNICEF also delivers clean water, food, medical supplies, hygiene kits, and builds handwashing stations for those who do not have a place to clean their hands (UNICEF.org).
How has the pandemic affected UNICEF and its work?
Due to the massive scale of the pandemic, UNICEF has focused a significant proportion of its resources on the coronavirus crisis as opposed to continuing their work on current projects. The pandemic has taken priority as an imminent issue and other efforts have been placed on hold. The organization launched a $2 billion global humanitarian response to fight the virus in 51 countries across South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia (Relief Web.int). However, UNICEF is in desperate need of another $42.3 million to fully embody its coronavirus response and support global efforts to mitigate the pandemic (CanadaHelps.org). These funds largely go towards providing critical medical supplies and supporting children in outbreak areas of the world. UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore voices this shift, saying “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.” UNICEF works on the ground in more than 190 countries, partnering with front-line responders to keep children healthy and protected from sickness or violence (UNICEF.org). Preliminary funds so far have supported UNICEF’s efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by tackling misinformation and strengthening communication so that children and their families have access to proper assistance. As part of the movement across the United Nations’ subsidiary organizations, UNICEF continues to ramp up its response in all fields to address the pandemic that has gripped the world and its children.