On the Front Lines: Healthcare Workers | UNICEF Canada: For Every Child Skip to main content

April 5-11 is recognized every year as World Health Worker Week and this year in particular, we wanted to recognize the efforts of just some of the millions of health care workers around the world, who – despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak – are hard at work to ensure children receive the vital care they need, often having to endure separation from their own families and putting their own lives at risk as a result.

CHINA

The first cases of the novel coronavirus – now known as COVID-19 – are believed to have originated in China, and as a result, China was the first country to issue lockdowns along with other social distancing orders, in order to control the pandemic.

As a result, many routine treatments – including vaccinations for babies and children – had to be halted, but as of the end of March 2020, many medical facilities in provinces across China have begun to resume services as instances of COVID-19 began to decrease.

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A nurse measures the body temperature of a caregiver as she waits to take a child to receive vaccinations at a community health centre in Beijing, China. [© UNICEF/UNI315079/Yuwei]
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A 3-year-old girl receives a vaccine shot at a community health centre in Beijing, China. [© UNICEF/UNI315081/Yuwei]
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A 6-month baby receives a delayed vaccine shot at a community health centre in Beijing, China. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the baby didn’t get her DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) shot when she turned five months old. “We were worried that a vaccine visit may cause infection,” said her mother. [© UNICEF/UNI315082/Yuwei]

FIJI

Compared to many other countries, Fiji has seen a low development rate of COVID-19 cases across the country; with only 15 confirmed cases, with all patients reported to be in stable condition. In part this has been attributed to quick action by the Government of Fiji, including the lockdown of cities and towns where cases were confirmed and a country-wide curfew.

Given that it is hurricane season in the Pacific, the Government has also set up contingency plans including the weather-proofing of the ‘fever screening’ clinics and evacuation plans for those identified as being infected with COVID-19.

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With support from UNICEF, more than 20 ‘fever clinics’ have been set up across Fiji to screen residents for COVID-19. [© UNICEF/UNI317735/Hing]
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Kelera Kanabicibici, the Acting Team Leader for Public Health at the Nakasi Health Centre in Suva, Fiji shows off the isolation room that has been set up for COVID-19 patients. [© UNICEF/UNI317730/Hing]
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Kelera Kanabicibici discusses plans for setting up foot-operated handwashing stations and toilet facilities at the fever clinic with UNICEF WASH specialist Ro Iva Namela. [© UNICEF/UNI317732/Hing]

SYRIA

The ongoing conflict in Syria has resulted in many health crises for children and families – both those who remain in the country and those who have been forced to flee for other countries – well before the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Syria.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has assessed that Syria’s “fragile health systems may not have the capacity to detect and respond” to the pandemic and the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen is calling for “immediate nationwide ceasefire” to the conflict, for an “all-out” effort on countering COVID-19.

Despite the recent movement restrictions across Syria – due to COVID-19 prevention measures –  UNICEF’s health and nutrition staff and partners in Mahmoudli camp in rural Ar-Raqqa continues to reach children and women with a mobile team. The team visits the camp three times a week to provide nutrition services and to monitor and follow up on malnourished children.

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A child is screened for malnutrition using middle upper arm circumference measurement in Mahmoudi camp. [© UNICEF/UNI318714/Wasel]
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UNICEF workers distributes ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) – to help treat malnourished children – in Mahmoudli camp. [© UNICEF/UNI318712/Wasel]

Côte d'Ivoire

As of April 7, the Government of Côte d'Ivoire is reporting 384 cases of COVID-19 across the country. As part of the ongoing precautions against the spread of the disease, health care workers are now screening all visitors to medical centres for COVID-19. Visitors to medical centres are also being asked to wash their hands before entering the medical building and upon leaving, to help limit the possibility of transmission of the disease.

Despite ongoing precautions – including a country-wide curfew – health workers in Côte d'Ivoire are determined to continue routine treatments for babies and children in the country.

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A nurse – wearing gloves and a mask to protect against COVID-19 – cares for a newborn baby at the health centre of Port Bouet, a suburb of Abidjan, in the South of Côte d'Ivoire. [© UNICEF/UNI316681/Frank Dejongh]
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A baby receives an oral vaccine from a nurse – wearing gloves to protect herself and the baby against COVID-19 transmission - at the health centre of Gonzagueville, a suburb of Abidjan, in the South of Côte d'Ivoire. [© UNICEF/UNI316673/Frank Dejongh]
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A woman washes her child’s hands before entering the health centre of Gonzagueville. [© UNICEF/UNI316671/Frank Dejongh]

Now more than ever, health workers on the frontlines need protective measures to keep themselves and children safe. Help protect health workers – and in turn, the children they care for – with the gift of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This bundle includes a respiratory mask, a surgical mask, gloves, protective boots and a coverall gown that helps keep health workers and children safe from the spread of preventable diseases.