Government of Sweden Boosts UNICEF Lifesaving Healthcare Services during COVID-19 Response
By Damba Rogers
Responding to the most urgent needs of children and women impacted by COVID-19 and supporting the continuity of healthcare services for the most marginalized communities
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has received US$4.4 million (app. UGX 16 billion) from the Government of Sweden to support Uganda’s COVID-19 humanitarian response and efforts towards the continued delivery of essential health services for pregnant and breastfeeding women, newborns, young children, and adolescents.
The new funding will target beneficiaries in the districts of Iganga, Isingiro, Kampala, Kamuli, Kasese, Mbale, Wakiso, Pakwach, Nebbi, Zombo, Madi-Okollo, Arua, Maracha, Koboko, Yumbe, Moyo, Obongi, and Adjumani from July 2020 to June 2021.
UNICEF and partners continue to support the Government of Uganda in controlling, containing, and mitigating the impact of COVID-19. UNICEF is particularly focused on strengthening access to essential services like health care. Due to restrictions on movement and fears of contracting the coronavirus, many women and children have missed out on much-needed health care, including maternal and newborn care, vaccinations, HIV medications, and nutrition services, exposing them to heightened danger.
“Few things could be more important right now than supporting people’s health,” H.E. Per Lindgärde, Swedish Ambassador, said. “It is extremely important that antenatal, delivery, and postnatal services, along with different levels of emergency care – especially for pregnant women and premature or sick newborns – are accessible to all who need them.”
“Supporting essential health services also means providing health workers with protective gear and infection-prevention supplies and ensuring that they have the knowledge needed to safely provide services during the epidemic,” the Ambassador added.
The UNICEF Representative in Uganda, Dr. Doreen Mulenga, thanked Sweden for its support.
“This funding is very timely. The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to undo some of the most significant gains for children and women in Uganda, greatly impacting their lives.”
“UNICEF will continue to support the Government of Uganda in addressing the most pressing needs of children and women while targeting those who are most vulnerable and those in hard-to-reach areas,” she stressed.
UNICEF and the Government of Sweden call on the Ugandan Government and other donors to maintain life-saving services for pregnant women and newborns.
Dr. Mulenga emphasized that “it is time for unity, a time to bring everyone together in solidarity. We can help save lives by making sure that every pregnant mother receives the support she needs to give birth safely in the months to come.”
UNICEF has partnered with the Swedish Embassy since 2017, focusing primarily on improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services in West Nile.
The funding will help UNICEF with its overall emergency response and support for essential health services across 18 districts. UNICEF anticipates reaching an estimated 900 health workers in 241 health facilities, providing them with personal protective equipment (PPE) and training in infection prevention and control of the coronavirus. The funding will also help ensure that an estimated 1,000 mothers receive care for maternal complications and newborn care services and that 85,000 people will have access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services. Risk communication and community engagement through media and safer gatherings will reach a significant proportion of all community members in the supported districts.