UNICEF Pledges Immunization, Basic Health Care Support to Worst Affected Countries

Addis Ababa  The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) is committed to supporting basic health care and immunization needs in the worst affected countries, and to doing so in a way that limits the risk of COVID-19 transmission, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said. 

In her statement, Henrietta Fore said the COVID-19 pandemic is overstretching health services around the world as health workers are diverted to support the response.

Flight cancellations and trade restrictions by countries have severely constrained access to essential medicines, including vaccines, the executive director noted.

As the pandemic progresses, critical life-saving services, including immunization, will likely be disrupted, especially in Africa, Asia and the Middle East where they are sorely needed.

In all these, children from the poorest families in countries affected by conflicts and natural disasters are at the greatest risk.

Therefore, Fore said, “We are particularly concerned about countries such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Philippines, Syria and South Sudan that are battling measles, cholera or polio outbreaks while responding to COVID-19 cases.”

At a time like this, these countries can ill-afford to face additional outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, she stressed.

UNICEF is therefore providing greater support to governments to continue the supply of vaccines during this pandemic.

According to her,  governments may have to temporarily postpone preventive mass vaccination campaigns in many places in the days to come in order to ensure that the delivery of immunization services does not contribute to COVID-19 spread, and to follow recommendations on physical distancing.

UNICEF strongly recommends that all governments begin rigorous planning now to intensify immunization activities once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.

She underscored that “immunization remains a life-saving health intervention. As the world’s biggest buyer and supplier of vaccines, UNICEF will continue to play a pivotal role in supporting governments’ current and future immunization efforts.

Source: Ethiopia News agency

Countries Urged to Use ‘Second Window of Opportunity’ to Avert COVID-19 | Ethiopian News Agency

Addis Ababa  World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom urged countries to use the second window opportunity to suppress and stop transmission of COVID-19.

The pandemic continues to take a massive toll not just on health, but on so many parts of life, he stated, adding that “we have overcome many pandemics and crises before. We will overcome this one too.”

“Already we have lost more than 16,000 lives. We know we will lose more; how many more will be determined by the decisions we make and the actions we take now,” Tedros articulated.

Many countries, at significant social and economic cost, have introduced unprecedented measures including closing schools and businesses, cancelling sporting events and asking people to stay home and stay safe in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Asking people to stay at home and shutting down movement is buying time and reducing the pressure on health systems, the Director-General said, and noted “but on their own, these measures will not extinguish epidemics.”

The World Heal Organization recommended six measures as the best way to suppress and stop transmission so that the virus doesn’t re-surge after restrictions lifted.

Accordingly, WHO proposed the following measures including expanding, train and deploy health care and public health workforce, implementation of a system to find every suspected case at community level and to ramp up the production, capacity and availability of testing.

Furthermore, the organizations suggested the identification, adaptation and equip facilities that will use to treat and isolate patients, developing a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts as well as refocusing the whole of government on suppressing and controlling COVID-19.

Moreover, he underscored “aggressive measures to find, isolate, test, treat and trace are not only the best and fastest way out of extreme social and economic restrictions-they are also the best way to prevent them.”

More than 150 countries and territories still have fewer than 100 cases, Tedros stated.

“By taking the same aggressive actions now, these countries have the chance to prevent community transmission and avoid some of the more severe social and economic costs seen in other countries,” he noted.

In related news UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched major humanitarian appeal to keep COVID-19 from ‘circling back around the globe’.

The launched massive humanitarian appeal of 2 billion USD is to confront the unprecedented worldwide challenge posed by COVID-19, mitigate its impact, particularly on fragile countries with weak health systems.

Source: Ethiopia News agency

Ethiopia Confirms Death of 64 Citizens in Mozambique

Addis Ababa The Ethiopian Embassy in South Africa confirmed the death of 64 Ethiopians in container bound for Mozambique via Malawi.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the embassy was able to identify the deceased with the help of the surviving Ethiopians.

It was reported that 78 Ethiopian migrants have been loaded in a cargo container attached to a truck in Tete province, Northwest Mozambique.

The migrants have been suffocated along the journey, which caused the death of 64 Ethiopians. Only 14 of them survived.

All of the migrants did not have a valid travel document.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also reiterates its heartfelt condolences on the casualty of migrant Ethiopians, and wishes for comfort to the families of the deceased and their loved ones.

The Ethiopian Embassy in South Africa, the Government of Mozambique, IOM in Mozambique, and members of the Ethiopian Community are currently providing assistance and support to the 14 survivors, it pointed out.

The ministry added that survivors will soon be returned to Ethiopia after the necessary travel documents have been secured.

Northwest of Mozambique, the Tete province, is a popular transit point for victims of human traffickers who aspire to travel to South Africa, it was learned.

Source: Ethiopia News agency

Gov’t to Release More Than 4,000 Prisoners to Prevent COVID-19

The Attorney General announced today that it will grant pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a press conference she held today, Attorney General Adanech Abeebee said the government decided to release the prisoners in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

She stated that the prisoners pardoned include those convicted of minor crimes and sentenced up to 3 years as well as others put under one-year probation.

The amnesty covers nursing mothers and pregnant women and prisoners who were not involved in murder.

All the prisoners granted pardon will be screened for coronavirus before they join the community, it was learned. Source: Ethiopia News agency

PM Abiy, Leaders of IGAD Member Countries Holds Telephone Conversation

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held telephone conversation with leaders of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries on ways of halting the spread of COVID-19. 

During the phone call among the leaders, wide ranges of regional issues particularly containing the outbreak of COVID-19 were discussed in order to uphold regional health security.

Abiy said IGAD member countries as a regional bloc can play a key leadership role to curtail the spread of the virus and to effectively address the economic hurdles posed by coronavirus.

“In my phone conversation with Abdalla Hamdok, Mohammed Abdullahi, Ismail Omar Guelleh, Uhuru Kenyatta, and Salva Kiir, we agreed to work closely together to respond to the emerging challenges in a coordinated manner,” he said.

He added that the regional integration goals should not be hampered if “we align and lead with collective regional interests.”

As the global community is battling to slow down and ultimately halt the spread of COVID-19, East African countries moved from readiness to response following many confirmed cases in the region.

Source: Ethiopia News agency