By Our Reporter
United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malawi Maria Jose Torres says the United Nations in Malawi acknowledges the wide-ranging preparedness and response measures announced and currently under implementation by the Government of Malawi since the declaration of a state of disaster on 20 March 2020.
In statement released recently Torres said the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis throughout the world that requires extraordinary measures.
“The UN encourages everyone in Malawi to observe the recommended measures for prevention and containment of the pandemic,” said Torres.
In the statement Torres said, “The UN is providing decisive and coordinated support to Government efforts, together with development partners and non-government organizations, to strengthen the ability of Malawian institutions to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and ensure that no one is left behind.”
Malawi’s national COVID-19 health sector plan, has used technical advice provided by World Health Organization (WHO) that included the establishing of laboratory testing capacity and training public health specialists.
The UN agencies have put together coordinated approach to support the government.
“UNICEF has focused on buying medical supplies and equipment, as well as improving the water and sanitation infrastructure, to support the ability of Government and the humanitarian community to respond,” said Torres adding, “World Food Program (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are seeking to ensure that food and necessary supplies are available and can reach even those most in need.”
The statement further said, UNFPA is working on uninterrupted services for sexual and reproductive health, particularly maternal and new-born health care.
To cushion the exogenous shocks in the education sector as result of COVID- 19, UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA and UNESCO are collaborating to support adaptation of the education system, including with distance learning tools.
WFP, UNICEF, ILO and UNDP are expanding temporary cash transfers and initiating measures to help protect jobs, businesses and incomes preventing major economic and social setbacks due to the pandemic.
“Protection of the most vulnerable population groups and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, remain central to the work of UN Women, UNICEF, UNAIDS, ILO, IOM, UNHCR, and UNFPA,” said Torres adding “this includes support to refugees in camps, migrants at the borders, persons living with HIV/AIDS, persons living with disabilities, persons with albinism, single-headed households, the elderly, and those living in extreme poverty.”
In parallel, the UN is supporting data collection to ensure fact-based information, as well as sensitization campaigns to counter false beliefs and misinformation. UNICEF has helped Malawi to develop guidelines for schools and engage with Paramount Chiefs to distribute information. UNDP has supported political parties, through the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, to promote a better understanding of the impact of the virus and how to prevent its spread.
“The UN calls on everyone in Malawi to work together to ensure that this crisis does not become a human tragedy. These are times to respect human rights across the spectrum, to enable the success of the public health response,” said Torres.