Save the Children warns that the global coronavirus pandemic threatens to devastate children’s health and education, and cause unprecedented protection needs. In the largest appeal in its 100-year-history, the agency is aiming to raise US$100 million to urgently keep children and their families safe during the global COVID-19 outbreak, the most serious threat to global health and security in modern times.
Since the start of the outbreak, Save the Children has been responding to the needs of communities in countries impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, including in China, the US and across Europe. As the Coronavirus pandemic now accelerates across lower income countries, with new cases expected to reach 10,000 across Africa this week, the agency is warning that failure to act now in countries across south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa could result in the loss of three million people’s lives.
Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International, said:
“We have all watched in horror as the COVID-19 outbreak has turned lives at home and overseas upside down. The pandemic is now spreading across the world’s poorest countries, further crippling fragile health systems where children are already missing out on life saving treatment for malaria, pneumonia and malnutrition. It will leave many children without caregivers, out of school and in danger. We only have a matter of weeks to take swift action, that will determine how many lives we can save.”
With the funds raised, Save the Children will strengthen programmes so they can withstand the impact of the virus and protect the most vulnerable children in countries hardest hit by the virus, especially children living in poverty, refugees, displaced families, communities in conflict and crisis areas and girls. This includes increasing support for national health systems, standing by families facing loss of earnings caused by isolation measures, supporting unaccompanied children, and ensuring children can continue to get an education.
With confirmed cases in Syria and Afghanistan and looming outbreaks in Yemen and the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, concerns are growing over the spread of the virus across fragile communities which are ill prepared to manage an outbreak because of weaker health systems, food and economic insecurity or conflict.
Ali*, 14, is from a village in southern Idlib in Syria. He and his family were displaced more than two months ago, when their village was hit. “We’re used to the war now. Even when it hits nearby, we hide in caves. But with this virus, we can’t hide,” Ali said.
Save the Children warns the youngest generation will be deeply impacted by the outbreak. Already, an estimated 1.5 billion children and students are out of school with their chances of return diminishing each day closures continue. In many of the world’s poorest communities, as poverty deepens, children may be forced to work and adolescent girls forced into early marriage. Unsupervised children are at increased protection risks and, children who face domestic violence and abuse now face prolonged periods at home, whilst access to support services are reduced.
Over the past weeks, Save the Children has started ramping up its existing programmes worldwide. In the Rohingya refugee camps, host communities and other districts in Bangladesh for example, the agency is delivering critical supplies to health workers, restoring hygiene facilities, providing cash support to low income households, and providing families with information on how to protect themselves from the virus.
In Yemen, Save the Children is working in communities to raise awareness on prevention measures such as handwashing and hygiene. The agency has recently trained over 80 volunteers and 20 health workers to disseminate information locally into communities and health facilities.
Worldwide, Save the Children works with half a million community health workers in 44 countries to deliver vital health services – the agency aims to support them in recognising symptoms and preventing COVID-19, and to train another 100,000 in the coming six months. It will work with local communities to deliver training and protective equipment so that prevention measures can be ramped up, and cases can be identified early, referred for treatment and where possible, isolated.
Ms. Ashing continued:
“This crisis will test us like we have not been tested before. As the world shuts down borders and fragile healthcare systems buckle under the pressure of the pandemic, preparedness and efforts to slow the infection rate will mean the difference between life and death.
“Families may not have access to healthcare, clean water, and may suffer language or literacy barriers. We must ensure they have the support and information they need to protect themselves. Children in the most deprived and marginalised communities play a more vital role than ever in reducing the rate of transmission.
“In the poorest communities, they may be caring for younger children, or adults, or be the only one in the family that can read or access information. This is vital for all, because no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
*Name changed for privacy reasons
To support Save the Children’s COVID-19 emergency appeal, click here.
For media inquiries contact Evan Schuurman on 0406 117 937.
Note to editors:
- To protect a generation of children from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, Save the Children has launched its Agenda for Action – a five point plan for a coordinated community, national and global action on five fronts to avert a catastrophe that could affect the lives of millions of children.
- Confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the African continent have been increasing rapidly since 10 March, according to figures from the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). With current confirmed figures on 6 April at 9,201 across 51 African Union Member States, it’s expected the continent will pass 10,000 confirmed cases by the end of the week.