KABUL, Afghanistan, Jul 26 (IPS) – The wants of Afghanistan’s youngsters and households are immense. So are the efforts of these supporting them: groups of neighborhood staff made up of members of the family, academics in community-based faculties, vaccinators, and well being staff working across the clock to deliver life-saving providers within the face of an unfolding humanitarian disaster.
I just lately traveled to japanese Afghanistan to satisfy a number of the inspiring heroes who, this yr already, helped UNICEF attain round 19 million youngsters and their households with well being and diet providers.
UNICEF’s unimaginable well being and diet response is supported by individuals throughout Afghan society. One among them is Mangal, a hero on two wheels. Each morning, Mangal picks up vaccines at a UNICEF-supported district hospital.
He rigorously packs them in a cooler, which he straps to his motorcycle earlier than setting off to distant villages. Mangal braves tough, slim roads, the scorching warmth, and real safety dangers.
“I trip for 9 kilometres on daily basis to deliver these vaccines to the individuals who want them,” he tells me. “They perceive how vital it’s to guard their youngsters from illnesses. They don’t want any persuasion to return right here. They greet me with gratitude and hope.”?
A few of Mangal’s provides land right here, with a UNICEF-supported cell well being and diet workforce offering providers straight to the communities who want them most and who don’t have any different option to entry well being care.
Like a lot of UNICEF’s well being and diet work throughout Afghanistan, these programmes are game-changers.
However these groups have their work minimize out for them.
“Almost half of all youngsters below 5 in Afghanistan are malnourished, a really devastating quantity,” UNICEF’s head of diet, Melanie Galvin, tells me. “Some 875,000 of them are anticipated to wish therapy for extreme acute malnutrition, essentially the most deadly type of undernutrition and one of many high threats to little one survival throughout the globe.”
Ramping up the response means staffing up the response, too. UNICEF has greater than doubled the variety of locations the place a baby will be handled.
“Final yr we put extra diet nurses and diet counsellors into overflowing hospitals,” Melanie says. “We put them straight into communities the place individuals stay. We put them into cell clinics that attain very small and remoted populations. We put them into day care centre areas in poor city areas.”
Cell well being and diet groups are important in reaching rural areas with primary providers like pre-natal checkups, vaccinations, psycho-social counselling, and ready-to-use therapeutic meals (RUTF). It’s a heartbreaking situation to see up shut. On this photograph, little Zarmina receives an RUTF sachet from Melanie.
RUTF actually is a magical paste – power dense and stuffed with micronutrients. Used to deal with extreme acute malnutrition, also called extreme losing, RUTF is made utilizing peanuts, sugar, milk powder, oil, nutritional vitamins and minerals, and has helped deal with thousands and thousands of kids in Afghanistan.
As we tour a hospital, Dr. Fouzia Shafique, UNICEF Afghanistan’s Principal Well being Advisor, explains how UNICEF has managed to help so many youngsters, regardless of all of the challenges.
“Well being clinics, household groups of neighborhood staff, community-based faculties, vaccinators, and educated feminine well being staff,” she tells me. Donors such because the World Financial institution and Asian Growth Financial institution have additionally been important companions, serving to UNICEF present care even in difficult-to-reach areas of the nation.
So lots of the life-saving interventions I encountered on my mission are made attainable by the tireless work of UNICEF workers comparable to Dr. Shafique and Dr. Nafi Kakar, who fill a large number of roles, together with inspecting vaccines and components of the chilly chain system that’s used to retailer them.
Serving to households entry high quality major and secondary well being care means supporting hundreds of well being services, protecting working prices, paying the salaries of tens of hundreds of well being staff, and procuring and distributing medical provides.
Collectively, these efforts are serving to UNICEF attain lots of the greater than 15 million youngsters in Afghanistan who want help. It’s a tough quantity to understand, however simpler to understand while you meet a few of these exact same youngsters.
There’s the infant combating for her life in an incubator; the kids working for his or her households in fields of unexploded mines; the kids grappling with the anxieties and pressures of poverty; or the ladies disadvantaged of their best hope – training. Every little one is like my very own. Distinctive. Every little one is particular.
The grins say all of it: For Dr. Shafique and younger women in Afghanistan, it’s been a great day. However there stays a lot to do. Supporting the well being and well-being of individuals in Afghanistan isn’t solely about entry to well being providers, it’s additionally in regards to the safety of rights – notably, making certain rights and freedoms for ladies and women.
Given the enormity of UNICEF’s function within the well being and diet sector, it’s important for UNICEF – and for youngsters in Afghanistan – that funding is maintained. In order that the nation’s youngsters can develop up protected, wholesome and be the heroes in their very own tales.
Supply: UNICEF Weblog
The UNICEF Weblog promotes youngsters’s rights and well-being, and concepts about methods to enhance their lives and the lives of their households. It additionally brings insights and opinions from the world’s main little one rights specialists and accounts from UNICEF’s workers on the bottom in additional than 190 international locations and territories. The opinions expressed on the UNICEF Weblog are these of the writer(s) and will not essentially mirror UNICEF’s official place.
James Elder is UNICEF Spokesperson in Afghanistan.
IPS UN Bureau
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