UNICEF’s racing to end the pandemic in the largest health campaign in history. We’re on a mission to deliver 3 billion COVID-19 vaccines around the world to those most in need. Although children won’t receive these vaccines; we’re prioritising healthcare and other key workers they rely on, which means children can continue getting the critical care they need.
Even with this massive operation underway, the pandemic has already turned the lives of millions of children all around the world upside down. And it’s not just affecting the lives of kids today - but also the outlook for their futures.
March 2nd 2021 – UNICEF’s ‘Pandemic Classroom’ – 168 empty desks, each seat representing one million children living in countries where schools had been almost entirely closed since the onset of lockdowns.
At the height of the pandemic, school closures forced 1.6 billion children around the world to put their learning on hold. They were left without months of socialisation and education - both hugely important to healthy early childhood development. A year on and still one in three children remain out of school, and without the means for remote learning. Some schools have since reopened, but education for many still hang in the balance.
UNICEF continues to deliver resources for remote education so children may continue their education, no matter where they are. Our work prepares children for the future, by enabling them to learn and feel empowered.
July 2021 - Odette, with her 9 month old baby Rebecca, waiting to be weighed, measured and vaccinated in the health centre of Gonzagueville, in the South of Côte d’Ivoire.
Countries around the world took unprecedented steps to prevent and contain spread of the virus. Though with the closures of childcare services, instituted lockdowns and border restrictions came the inevitable interruption of supply, delivery and uptake of routine vaccinations. Parents were then left to face the difficult decision of deferring life-saving immunisations.
UNICEF is restoring health systems burdened by the COVID-19 outbreak while accelerating routine vaccines in at-risk areas so as not to trade one health crisis for another. We are putting emphasis on prevention, so that children may grow up happy and healthy.
Water, Sanitation & Hygiene
October 2021 - Ahadi washes her hands at a hand-washing point located at a UNICEF-supported centre in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Basic handwashing facilities, soap and water are essential to preventing the transmission and spread of COVID-19. This is why we support affected countries in securing sustainable and resilient WASH services (safe water, adequate sanitation, good hygiene practices). Last year alone, UNICEF helped ensured over 10 million people received access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.
While water plays a key role in prevention and protection for children and their families during a pandemic, it is also at the core of their growth and development.
July 2021 – 6 month old Wegahta, was provided with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food after being identified as severely acutely malnourished during a UNICEF nutrition screening in Tigray – Ethiopia.
Even before COVID-19, child malnutrition affected more than a hundred million children worldwide, and has since been on the rise. Along with re-establishing the disrupted health and nutritional services we provide therapeutic foods to the acutely malnourished, bringing them back to good health in a matter of weeks.
UNICEF delivered 480 million packets of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods in 2020 - A cost effective way to safeguard children from disease and intergenerational issues. Our focus on the future, starts by doing everything possible to ensure the health of children.
May 2021 - Mahdieh with her daughter Selena, participating in workshops aimed at improving the health of women, girls, and children, especially in the areas of mental health protection.
Our collaborative role in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines is as much about overcoming disease as it is about restarting children’s lives. The closure of schools, distancing, isolation, and fear of the disease itself continue to impact the mental health and wellbeing of children.
UNICEF prioritises the integration of child mental health and psychosocial support services and training into global humanitarian its relief efforts. Children thrive when they feel safe and protected.
The crucial role that education, immunisation, water, nutrition and mental health support play in a child’s growth, development and success cannot be overstated. As vaccines continue to roll out, the disruption to essential systems and services surrounding these necessities are lessened. By vaccinating we step forward into a brighter future for children – a world unhindered by delays, closures and restrictions related to COVID-19.