UNICEF supports Pacific Island countries to protect communities against COVID-19 pandemic

Pacific Island countries prepare to combat outbreaks

29 March 2020
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Suva, 30 March 2020 – UNICEF is supporting Pacific Island governments to help communities across the region prepare and respond to the threat faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, UNICEF working together with the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided more than 170,000 essential medical and laboratory items, as well as other supplies, to support COVID-19 response efforts in the region. This assistance has been delivered to these countries according to their current needs, along with communication materials for governments to use at airport arrivals, in schools and communities, to inform the public about the symptoms of COVID-19, what to do if someone is feeling unwell, and actions to take to prevent the spread of the virus.

UNICEF is supporting the COVID-19 Joint Incident Management Team response in the Pacific led by WHO together with its partners, and with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Japan and Global Partnership for Education.

“UNICEF will continue working with governments and our partners throughout the Pacific to stop transmission of the virus, and to keep children and their families safe,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett. “Children are the hidden victims of this pandemic. In just a few months, COVID-19 has upended the lives of children around the Pacific. Thousands of children are not in school. Parents and caregivers have lost their jobs. Borders have been closed.”

Across the Pacific, UNICEF is supporting governments to respond to or prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 through several actions. This includes the provision of medical items to respond to any outbreak of the virus, including N95 respirators, surgical masks, swabs, thermometers, testing kits, gloves and medical gowns. UNICEF also continues to support all countries to help children continue their learning following school closures, while keeping schools safe, with the adaptation of the Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools for Pacific Island countries.

In addition to providing medical and laboratory supplies to support governments respond in the event of any virus outbreak, UNICEF continues to reach out to communities to share essential information on keeping children safe to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including washing hands, to cough into your elbow, and to not touch your face, especially the eyes, mouth and nose.

UNICEF continues to support countries in the Pacific region to be prepared and respond to any outbreak, with some of the main activities including:

In Fiji:

  • Provided 10 tents which will be used as fever clinics to treat patients who are unwell.

In Federated States of Micronesia:

  • Provided an SMS platform whereby two text messages daily on COVID-19 preventive measures reach 25,000 people throughout the country.
  • Implemented a community hand washing campaign including an orientation on proper hand washing in 77 schools in FSM’s Chuuk and Pohnpei States.
  • Working with IOM and the Pohnpei Public Utilities to build 100 handwashing stations with soap in schools and other public facilities as part of a hygiene promotion campaign.
  • Provided tents in Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap to be used as clinics.

In Solomon Islands:

  • Distributed Water, Sanitation and Health dignity kits including soap and sanitary pads to households affected by landslides in West Guadalcanal.
  • Supporting the government in developing learning continuity guidelines for children when at home.
  • Training for Social Welfare officers on managing stress and self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Vanuatu:

  • Provided three tents for the purposes of treating patients.
  • Supporting the Government of Vanuatu to provide handwashing stations at election polls and construction of handwashing facilities in communities and health clinics.
  • Will conduct trainings for awareness outreach in communities, in partnership with theatre group, Wan Smol Bag.

In Kiribati:

  • Worked with government and other partners to develop an SMS platform whereby text messages on COVID-19 were sent to about 50,000 people throughout the country.
  • Risk communication support to the government in developing training for awareness outreach in communities.
  • Installation of handwashing facilities at the main hospitals in Tarawa and Betio, including community campaign on proper hand washing.
  • Developing an education contingency plan to cater for possible school closure.

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Media contacts

Zubnah Khan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 330 0439 Ext. 175
Tel: 715 7586

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/pacificislands/

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