The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund says COVID-19 has affected the basic health services, education and protection of millions of children.
According to the UN agency, COVID-19 has widened this inequality gap and the social, economic and health impacts of the pandemic will reverberate for years to come, threatening child rights.
The UNICEF Chief, Henrietta Fore, disclosed this in an open letter on “Why I believe we can reimagine a better post-COVID world for every child,” to kick off the agency’s 75th anniversary.
Fore said, “COVID-19 is the first truly global crisis we have seen in our lifetime. No matter where we live, the pandemic affects every person -– children most of all.
“Millions are missing out on basic health services, education and protection simply because they were born into poverty or because of their ethnicity, religion or race. COVID-19 has widened this inequality gap and the social, economic and health impacts of the pandemic will reverberate for years to come, threatening child rights.
“But this is not the time to be intimidated or paralyzed by these challenges. As we kick off UNICEF’s 75th anniversary, we are reminded that this organization was created in the midst of another historic crisis in the aftermath of World War II.
“Back then, it would have been easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of the problems facing children in a war-ravaged world. But we reimagined what was possible. We built new health and welfare systems around the world. We defeated smallpox. We built the United Nations.
“History is calling upon us once again. In previous major global crises, from world wars to pandemics, leaders have come together to negotiate deals and pacts, agreeing to build new ways to restore peace, recover and rebuild, and to cooperate.”
The UNICEF Chief said there is a need to rally the world behind a practical and concrete plan to protect the children.
“While we must be clear-eyed about the scale of the challenges facing the world’s children, we can also advance in partnership and solidarity by building on our past, with ambition and confidence in our future.
“This is not about a return to the way things were. For hundreds of millions of children around the world, ‘normal’ was never good enough to begin with.
“Now that the world has developed multiple COVID-19 vaccines, we can turn our attention to the long and difficult fight to eliminate this virus from the planet with equity and fairness, reaching everyone including the poorest and most excluded.
“Work is already being done to prepare for that day. UNICEF is a committed partner of the Advance Market Commitment Engagement Group of the COVAX Facility, a global collaboration to guarantee fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world,” she noted.
Fore added that the agency is rolling out a global digital campaign to build public support and raise local awareness about the value and effectiveness of all vaccines.
“Our goal is to ensure that no country and no family is pushed to the back of the line as vaccines become available. We will do this by leading efforts to procure and supply COVID-19 vaccines and using our existing infrastructure to help facilitate their logistically demanding delivery, even to the most remote areas. Governments must work together to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are affordable and accessible to all countries.
“But just as critically, because the most important ingredient to any vaccine is trust, UNICEF is rolling out a global digital campaign to build public support and raise local awareness about the value and effectiveness of all vaccines.
“Technology companies have a huge role to play and have taken important initial steps to address the spread of dangerous misinformation on their platforms.
“In October 2020, Facebook announced a global policy to prohibit ads that discourage vaccinations. Soon after, YouTube announced a crackdown on anti-vaccination content, removing videos that include misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines. But more can be done. Social media platforms must take steps to flag and remove content that distorts the truth,” Fore said.
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