Elyx met with staff from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the ground in Guinea, a country that has been hit hard by virus Ebola. UN agencies helped the government come to grips with the epidemics, which has resulted so far in more than 10,000 deaths.
UNICEF deployed its staff to raise awareness of how people can protect themselves against the virus and improve hygienic behavior.
Elyx has seen how serious the virus is and its consequences. The UN digital ambassador also learns that UNICEF is helping 6,000 children, orphans of one or both parents, to rebuild their lives through participation in psychosocial support workshops.
UNICEF’s work is bearing fruit. No Ebola transmission has been reported in schools!
Moreover, Elyx saw that the UN agency is working to allow children to resume classes. Placing new water sources in virus-affected areas, distributing medicine and making ambulances more available are some of the initiatives on the agenda.
Several UN agencies, including UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP), spared no effort to halt the epidemics spread and help affected communities to go back to their normal life and activities.
During the health crisis, hundreds of Guineans could not grow their crops or go to the market. Hence, this is also an economic and food crisis. Moreover, it affects health, education and business. It will take a long time for this country, already one of the poorest in the world, to recover.
As the focus on Ebola is gradually receding, Guinea is facing other challenges. Diseases such as polio and meningitis have hit the country. Elyx has also learned that Ebola outbreak hindered the fight against these diseases. Indeed, patients avoided health services, as they were afraid to contract the virus. Over the last few months, UNICEF has launched several vaccination campaigns.
Some 500,000 children suffer from chronic malnutrition in Guinea. Elyx discovers that this scourge kills more than 45% children under 5. Malnutrition also hampers the human and socio-economic development of the country and perpetuates the vicious circle of poverty. Maternal breastfeeding is one of the preventive solutions recommended by UNICEF. This is indeed the best way to provide new-borns with nutriments, which are essential to development of their brain and body. Indeed, the first 1,000 days are the most important for a child’s development.
By the end of the stay, Elyx has learned a lot about how Guinean children are being cared for. Moreover, the UN digital ambassador is impressed by UNICEF work and the challenges that this UN agency faces.