New York, 17 February 2020 – UNICEF urgently needs $42.3 million to scale up its response to the Covid-19 virus outbreak and support global efforts to contain it.
“This is a race against time,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore. “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.”
The preliminary funds will support UNICEF’s work to reduce the transmission of the virus including by strengthening risk communication and tackling misinformation so that children, pregnant women and their families know how to prevent Covid-19 spread and where to seek assistance.
To mitigate the broader impact of the outbreak, UNICEF also plans to support distance learning opportunities for children who can’t access school and to provide mental health and psychosocial support to children and families affected.
“We are especially concerned by the possible secondary impact of the outbreak” Fore said. “It is critical that children’s access to learning, health, nutrition and protection services is not affected.”
UNICEF’s current response focuses on supporting the Government of China and the broader East Asia and Pacific region countries where most of the cases have so far been reported. Since 29 January, UNICEF has flown in 13 tons of supplies, including protective suits, masks, goggles and gloves for use by health workers. Additional shipments are in the pipeline and UNICEF is pre-positioning supplies in key locations.
Given the unpredictable nature of the virus and the continued spread, UNICEF is also liaising with Governments, World Health Organization counterparts and other partners in developing contingency plans in other regions, especially in countries with weaker health systems and limited capacity to deal with major disease outbreaks.
“We are hoping for the best, but must prepare for the worst,” Fore said.