What keeps you awake at night?

Etleva Kadilli, Director, UNICEF Supply Division, reflects on a year of effort and inspiration, and the challenges ahead.

UNICEF
Eva Kadilli at UNICEF Supply Division's warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark, is the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world.
UNICEF/UN0394463/Hildelbrandt
15 June 2022

I feel privileged and proud to be part of UNICEF and to have contributed to our response to COVID-19 and other emergencies. But there are, of course, things that keep me awake at night.

One thing that deeply worries me is getting children back to school. Millions of children missed out on learning when COVID-19 disrupted education systems and while digital solutions connected many children, many others remained adrift, unable to access learning.

As a mother, I saw the impact of school closures on children first-hand; how difficult it is for them to lose not just the learning aspect of school but also the social fabric. A whole generation faced this challenge. Getting children back to school will not be easy but must be a priority – especially for girls who face additional hurdles in some settings. Education is the backbone of children’s future and well-being. They need to be able to learn, be with friends, and have a happy childhood.

I am concerned that this pandemic is not over. There is still much to be done, and we cannot ease up efforts.

We know another health emergency will come. We may not know its scope nor when it will happen, but we can and should start preparing.

We have done a phenomenal job with our partners reaching people at risk with the COVID-19 vaccine, but I am keenly aware that we are far from our target of 70 per cent vaccination coverage in all countries. Indeed, in some low- and lower-middle-income countries, coverage rates are a fraction of this.

Now is the time to tap into our innovative spirit and collaborate with teams in country offices and our partners to support countries to ramp up vaccinations, especially for health workers who are the foundation of a strong health-care system.

We know another health emergency will come. We may not know its scope nor when it will happen, but we can and should start preparing. We can support governments with foresight and strengthen their systems from end-to-end, continue our work in market shaping and further improve vaccine rollout mechanisms.

We need a better understanding and preparedness for the disparity of ongoing and concurrent emergencies.

I am kept awake by the increase in emergencies across the world, both in terms of number and duration.

We need a better understanding and preparedness for the disparity of ongoing and concurrent emergencies. It has been sad to witness the continuation of crises such as those in South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen and the emergence of new crises resulting from natural disasters, human conflict, or environmental pressures.

The uncertainty and anxiety engendered by these situations is hardest on the most vulnerable, often children and families. No child should have to feel this pressure and I hope we can provide them with a safety net so they can have continued access to services and remain with their communities. My hope is that we build capacity to be ready to scale up and respond to a new emergency while already responding to protracted crises.

The UNICEF supply teams work around the clock, and their well-being keeps me awake at night. They are the backbone of our success, showing resilience and determination to keep UNICEF programmes running throughout the pandemic. Their effort and willingness to put all hands-on deck is even more impressive because while they were supporting our COVID-19 response, which is historic in terms of scale and speed, they were personally affected, living through the challenges of the pandemic.
 
I am immensely proud of this amazing team and inspired by their dedication and connection to our purpose and mission.

We can only do so much alone. I am fortunate to work with colleagues and partners who realize that together we can move mountains. I take strength from this truth when I am kept awake at night.

UNICEF
Etleva Kadilli, Director, UNICEF Supply Division, reflects on 2021, a year of effort and inspiration and the challenges ahead.