UNICEF on Tuesday distributed life-saving supplies to more than 340,000 vulnerable people – mainly children – to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases in Vietnam.
The supplies include soap bars, hand sanitizers, and ceramic water filters that will be available in schools, commune health centers, and communities in seven provinces, including Soc Trang, Ben Tre, Ninh Thuan, Lao Cai, Dien Bien, Gia Lai, and Kon Tum.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, the hand washing practices that are now well established in Vietnam must continue, while we remain vigilant to fight the spread of this and any disease that threatens children’s health and wellbeing,” said Rana Flowers, UNICEF representative in Vietnam.
UNICEF has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of the crisis focusing on prevention messages and community engagement.
The UN agency benefits from the support of well-known celebrities in its effort to reach every child, including in ethnic languages and reaching those with a disability.
It works to ensure the provision of critical medical and water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies while maintaining the support for continuing access to essential healthcare, nutrition, education, and social and child protection services for the most vulnerable women and children.
Tuesday’s provision of supplies was coordinated by UNICEF and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and will be complemented by additional distributions in the following weeks.
|Rana Flowers (R), UNICEF representative in Vietnam, and Nguyen Hoang Hiep (C), Vietnamese Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, speak to a woman in Soc Trang Province, Vietnam, May 26, 2020. Photo: Supplied|
The supplies were accompanied by materials on proper handwashing and hygiene practices to help people and children stay safe.
“Handwashing has never been more important than in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Flowers said during a handover ceremony in Soc Trang Province.
“However, many children and their families cannot do this simple act as clean water and basic hygiene facilities remain out of reach.”
The health crisis in the Mekong Delta provinces is compounded by the drought and saltwater intrusion that have challenged the region since 2019.
UNICEF is an emergency organization which is focused on sustainable development, Flowers said, adding “with every crisis comes the opportunity for meaningful change – our focus is on assisting children and communities to recover from crisis while attending to the long-term consequences that threaten children’s rights and their development.”
“COVID 19, more than any other crisis, threatens to become a child rights crisis.
“Our focus right now is on measuring and immediately addressing the threats to children’s rights – from school dropout and child labor, to increased levels of violence, to the spread of disease for those communities without running water or hygiene products.”