KABUL, Afghanistan, Jul 26 (IPS) – The wants of Afghanistan’s kids and households are immense. So are the efforts of these supporting them: groups of group 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 companies within the face of an unfolding humanitarian disaster.
I not too long ago traveled to jap Afghanistan to satisfy a number of the inspiring heroes who, this yr already, helped UNICEF attain round 19 million kids and their households with well being and diet companies.
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 fastidiously packs them in a cooler, which he straps to his bike earlier than setting off to distant villages. Mangal braves tough, slim roads, the scorching warmth, and real safety dangers.
“I experience for 9 kilometres daily to deliver these vaccines to the individuals who want them,” he tells me. “They perceive how necessary it’s to guard their kids from illnesses. They don’t want any persuasion to come back 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 companies straight to the communities who want them most and who don’t have any different approach 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 kids below 5 in Afghanistan are malnourished, a very devastating quantity,” UNICEF’s head of diet, Melanie Galvin, tells me. “Some 875,000 of them are anticipated to wish remedy for extreme acute malnutrition, probably the most deadly type of undernutrition and one of many prime threats to youngster 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.”
Cellular well being and diet groups are essential in reaching rural areas with primary companies 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 – vitality dense and stuffed with micronutrients. Used to deal with extreme acute malnutrition, often known as extreme losing, RUTF is made utilizing peanuts, sugar, milk powder, oil, nutritional vitamins and minerals, and has helped deal with tens of millions of youngsters 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 kids, regardless of all of the challenges.
“Well being clinics, household groups of group staff, community-based faculties, vaccinators, and skilled feminine well being staff,” she tells me. Donors such because the World Financial institution and Asian Growth Financial institution have additionally been essential 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 potential by the tireless work of UNICEF workers resembling Dr. Shafique and Dr. Nafi Kakar, who fill a mess of roles, together with inspecting vaccines and elements of the chilly chain system that’s used to retailer them.
Serving to households entry high quality main and secondary well being care means supporting hundreds of well being services, overlaying 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 kids in Afghanistan who want help. It’s a troublesome quantity to grasp, however simpler to understand while you meet a few of these exact same kids.
There’s the child combating for her life in an incubator; the youngsters working for his or her households in fields of unexploded mines; the youngsters grappling with the anxieties and pressures of poverty; or the ladies disadvantaged of their best hope – schooling. Every youngster is like my very own. Distinctive. Every youngster is particular.
The grins say all of it: For Dr. Shafique and younger women in Afghanistan, it’s been 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 companies, it’s additionally concerning 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 essential for UNICEF – and for youngsters in Afghanistan – that funding is maintained. In order that the nation’s kids can develop up protected, wholesome and be the heroes in their very own tales.
Supply: UNICEF Weblog
The UNICEF Weblog promotes kids’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 youngster rights consultants and accounts from UNICEF’s workers on the bottom in additional than 190 nations and territories. The opinions expressed on the UNICEF Weblog are these of the creator(s) and should not essentially mirror UNICEF’s official place.
James Elder is UNICEF Spokesperson in Afghanistan.
IPS UN Bureau
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