UNICEF and SC Johnson join hands to help vulnerable communities cope with COVID-19
Delivered critical supplies and assistance to the children and families affected by COVID-19
On 7 December 2021, representatives from UNICEF and SC Johnson visited Klongtoey, an urban poor community in the heart of Bangkok, as well as Raks Thai Foundation to see and hear firsthand the result of their partnership to deliver critical supplies and assistance to the children and families affected by COVID-19.
Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF Representative for Thailand, and Nurindra Prawarianto, Director/ Country Manager for SC Johnson led the visit. “With the support of SC Johnson, we are able to expand our coverage and ensure that the children and families most in need have access to basic services and mental health support during the devastating COVID-19 crisis," said Kyungsun Kim.
There was a severe shortage of hospital beds at the height of the COVID 19 outbreak in Klongtoey community. Overflowing patients waiting for a spot in the hospital had to isolate themselves at Wat Saphan for initial treatment, yet many more waited at home at the risk of infecting their loved ones in overcrowded small living space.
“More than 70 per cent of people in the community were infected with the virus,” Wanpen, Klongtoey D Jung community volunteer explained. “There were hundreds of COVID-19 patients, including my neighbor's youngest daughter, who lived 2-3 houses down who needed medication to treat her high fever. I volunteered to help the family by providing medicine and food. That was the starting point for me to help people in need in our community.”
Early on in May, UNICEF stepped in to support community efforts to respond to the outbreak including by distributing ultra-heat treated (UHT) milk, hygiene and learning supplies, providing critical information and guidelines as well as mobilizing community workers and volunteers to protect the most vulnerable children and families.
In continuation of its support to the children and families in the Klongtoey community, UNICEF has partnered with Komol Keemthong Foundation (Klongtoey D Jung) and SC Johnson to provide community health case management and coordination set-up to facilitate timely access to services for confirmed COVID-19 cases in the community and support those in quarantine. So far the services benefitted more than 550 children and adults who tested COVID-19 positive. In addition to community care, cases were referred to field hospitals or district hospitals as needed.
Additionally, over 11,000 people received support with the Community Rapid COVID-19 test. UNICEF, Klongtoey D Jung, and SC Johnson also provided 150 oximeters, 150 infrared hand thermometers and 2,000 boxes of disposable masks to communities in Klongtoey to assist with case management services for infected and at-risk children and adults.
“I was gasping for air” said Sophi, an elderly woman from Klongtoey community about her experience when she was infected with COVID-19. “I had to wait at home, there was no ambulance to pick me up. Without the support I received, I wouldn't know where to turn for help. Klongtoey D Jung gave me supplies of oxygen, medicine, and other necessities during difficult times. "
Klongtoey D Jung uses its network of volunteers in Klongtoey subcommunities to ensure that everyone receives the help they need. In each neighborhood, a volunteer is responsible for ensuring the well-being of their neighbors and supporting health case management, which includes screening, testing, first aid consultations, referral and follow-up.
"Somedays I finished checking COVID-19 patients and went to bed at 3 AM and then woke up at 9 AM to bring an oxygen tank to another patient who was having trouble breathing." Wanpen continued, “Sometime I helped give a sponge bath to young children who had COVID-19. I would try to find every way to help the people in our community”
To support continued learning under COVID-19 restrictions, UNICEF Magic Bags containing books, toys, crayons and other learning materials were also distributed to 1,500 children with the support of SC Johnson. Each bag also contains guidelines for parents on how to keep young children engaged in learning activities at home. The bags were distributed to children under the age of 6 in vulnerable urban poor communities affected by COVID-19.
“During the lockdown, my grandchildren stayed in the room all day and sometimes they played in front of the room with old toys,” Lamiam, a member of Klongtoey community explained. "When my granddaughter received a Magic Bag, she screamed 'grandma' with excitement that she can color and draw in the books." Lamiam's granddaughter Nathita added "this is the best thing ever!"
With SC Johnson support, UNICEF was able to procure 90 oxygen concentrators to distribute to community isolation facilities, the District Health Office, primary health care centres and hospitals in Bangkok, Samut Prakarn, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathum, Nonthaburi, Pathumthani and Tak provinces. This life-saving oxygen equipment will help patients breathe during critical times.
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