When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 7, 2020, there was still very limited information available regarding the novel coronavirus. However, as the global leader in child-focused humanitarian response, Save the Children mobilized immediately.
“We know from our work fighting Ebola that children can be at great risk in a health crisis,” said Amy Richmond, Save the Children’s Director of Child Protection in Emergencies. “It is essential to put into place the plans that will ensure children’s health, safety and psychological well-being are the forefront of government and community responses.
Our response includes a focus on protecting the health workers, whose provision can help ensure the health and safety of children.
“The Coronavirus has serious potential to affect all of our programs globally,” says Jesse Hartness, Senior Director, Emergency Health and Nutrition at Save the Children. “We need to be prepared, especially for the most vulnerable who are living in parts of the world where there is limited access to healthcare or clean water.”
Here are 4 things to know about Save the Children health care workers and how they are helping to battle the coronavirus.
1. Health workers need to be protected On February 7, Save the Children China delivered 36,000 face masks to be distributed to health workers in Wuhan. The response followed China’s acknowledgement of the shortage of face masks, goggles and protective suits to help the country cope with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) puts health workers at increased risk of spreading the infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised explicit concerns regarding the continued increase in the number of cases including health workers in China. A total of 3,019 health workers had been infected as of Monday, February 4.
Bottom line—health workers need to be protected in order to ensure the continuous provision of health services to children and their caregivers.
2. Inappropriate use of medical supplies puts everyone at risk Rumors and misinformation surrounding coronavirus, including how to protect yourself and how the virus is spread, has contributed to a shortage of supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE). Depleted stockpiles and 4-to-6-month backlogs of PPEs coupled with demand and price increase has only contributed to the issue.
This disruption is putting front line health workers at risk. When health workers are not protected, communities, children and those most vulnerable face great risks as well.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the best way to help protect yourself and others against coronavirus is to practice good hygiene. It is also important to distance yourself from anyone who is coughing or sneezing—at least six feet is an ideal distance.
3. Both supplies and expertise are critical to the fight against coronavirus
Supplies alone can’t protect against coronavirus.
Save the Children was the first global organization devoted solely to serving children’s needs and securing their rights. We are often the first or only child-focused organization working in the hardest-to-reach places, where it’s toughest to be a child. As a result, our teams have been proactive in preparedness for pandemic threats.
Our emergency health teams have played a key role in responding to major epidemics around the world. And currently, as Ebola continues to rage on in the DRC, our teams are actively racing to fight against the deadly outbreak.
Previous outbreak experiences show quarantining populations has a serious effect on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of those quarantined. It also has the potential to increase vulnerability of already vulnerable groups such as children.
With the closure of schools and reduced social interaction, children can quickly start to experience feelings of loneliness or sadness. Save the Children’s health and child protection experts are uniquely poised to provide support to both caregivers and children who may be struggling.
4. Continued support is needed for health workers to continue the fight against coronavirus
Save the Children is a global leader in child-focused humanitarian responses, including lifesaving relief, recovery programs and local emergency preparedness. Our worldwide presence, decades of on-the-ground expertise and ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions sets us apart from others responding to crises. But we can’t do this important work without the continued support of our donors.
Children, their families and their communities impacted by coronavirus will need continued relief in the days and months to come. Please help our efforts around the world with a donation to the Coronavirus Response Fund today.