Community health

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Cholera: Outbreak silences a once vibrant town in southwestern Zimbabwe

Where children would normally be playing, it is now quiet on the streets of Mapanza, a small village in the southwest of Zimbabwe. The communal gatherings for meals have ceased, laughter is absent, and everyday clothing has been replaced by rain boots and protective suits.The village is grappling with a relentless cholera outbreak, starkly highlighting the severity of the disease.On a recent day of heavy rains, puddles surround the three large tents in the middle of the village. Medical personnel with masks and gloves move in and out of the tents. IV drips are carried into the tent where the most critical patients lie.In the other two tents, health workers attend to patients whose conditions have stabilized. Occasionally, a curious child peeks out from the tent. She appears to be about five years old.As we walk further into the village, we encounter Alec. "It likely started at a church service where many people gathered," says Alec, friendly and energetic man who lives in the village and who personally experienced how quickly cholera can strike without mercy. "Shortly after that, people started getting sick."Sources of contaminationIn addition, the community shares one water source, which got contaminated. Since cholera easily spreads through water, nearly half of the village was estimated to have fallen ill. There are no healthcare facilities in the area, exacerbating the situation to a critical level within hours.People were lying on the ground with nowhere to go, Alec recalls. "People started experiencing severe diarrhea and vomiting profusely,” he said. “Almost half of the compound population was down, and a local couple tried to ferry as many people as possible to the hospital in Chiredzi, but it was overwhelming. The worst affected were children and women; people also died." Alec also had to fight for his life. After he fell ill, his wife waited anxiously for news about her husband. She couldn't be with him and didn't know his condition. It was a nerve-wracking period.An immediate responseToday, when visitors come to the village, it's hard to grasp that this nightmare happened just a few weeks ago. While the events still loom large over the community, and things are still far from normal, fewer people are falling ill and very few are dying, thanks to those who mobilized to help.Volunteers from the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) immediately supported the Ministry of Health and Child Care, bringing tents, medical supplies, and "oral rehydration solutions" so that people could be safely treated and no longer had to lie on the ground. Together with the Ministry of Health, they were able to control the outbreak.Even now, volunteers are everywhere in the village. Many of them, such as Alec's wife, are community members who volunteered after experiencing what cholera did to their loved ones. She now participates in door-to-door campaigns, informing people about how to protect themselves so that an outbreak of this magnitude does not happen again.Since the beginning of the outbreak, ZRCS volunteers and staff have been taking action to combat the spread of cholera and provide care for patients. The Red Cross has also been supporting the Ministry of Health in setting up a cholera treatment centre to allow individuals with symptoms of cholera access to appropriate care.Volunteers have also been visiting communities to inform people on how to protect themselves and their loved ones, as well as what to do if they become ill.To jumpstart the initial response, the IFRC's Disaster Response Emergency Fund (IFRC-DREF) allocated CHF 500,000 and soon after, the IFRC launched an emergency appeal seeking CHF 3 million in order to to reach more than 550,000 people with life-saving assistance and help to contain the outbreak.

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World Radio Day: How radio helps keep communities healthy and safe

Though we’re living in an increasingly digital world, radio remains an important source of information, entertainment, and connection in countries across the globe.This is especially true among rural communities, for whom radio is often the most trusted—or sometimes only—source of news and information for miles around.Imagine you’re living in one of these communities, far from the nearest health centre. You notice people are falling sick and you don’t know why. Seeking answers, you tune into your local radio station.The presenter is talking about the ‘mystery illness’ in a panicked way, saying how gruesome the symptoms are, how many people have died, and how you should avoid infected people at all costs. He’s heard the illness could be some kind of curse, and that apparently drinking salty water can protect you.Hearing this report, and with no other sources to turn to, you’d probably feel scared and unsure of what to do.But imagine you tuned in and heard a totally different show. The presenter calmly offers practical information about the disease—its name, symptoms, how it spreads, and measures you can take to protect yourself. He interviews a local doctor you know and trust who responds to common questions and concerns.You’d feel reassured and have the information you need to keep you and your family safe.In several countries, the IFRC and our National Societies are partnering with local media to do exactly this: provide life-saving information before, during, and after health outbreaks.As part of the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3), we’ve been working with the charity BBC Media Action to train journalists and Red Cross Societies from seven countries in Lifeline Programming: special media programming that provides accurate, practical, and timely information in a health or humanitarian crisis.National Societies regularly partner with media outlets to broadcast helpful information that keeps communities healthy and safe from a wide range of diseases. Let’s look at some examples.KenyaIn Bomet and Tharaka Nithi counties, Kenya Red Cross teams up with local radio stations and county health services, reaching hundreds of thousands of people with useful health messages on how to prevent diseases such as anthrax, rabies and cholera.Information is shared in simple language. And listeners can call in to ask questions or suggest health topics for discussion.“At first, media was known for reporting two things, maybe: politics, and bad things that have happened in society. But the Red Cross helped us […] use the media in educating the people about disease,” explains Sylvester Rono, a journalist with Kass FM trained in Lifeline programming.“I am now proud to say that this has really helped our communities. Our people are now appreciating why we should vaccinate our pets, why we should go to the hospital when we have a bite, why we should report any [health] incident, and when you see any sign of diseases, be it rabies, be it anthrax, be it cholera […] the importance of reporting it earlier,” he adds.CameroonIn late 2021, a cholera outbreak threatened the lives of communities in the North region of Cameroon—a rural part of the country where communities are widely dispersed.As part of its response, the Cameroon Red Cross teamed up with local radio stations—launching a series of community radio programmes to share information on how people could protect themselves, what symptoms to look out for, and where to access help if they fell sick.Themes for the programmes were selected in partnership with community leaders. And after the shows broadcast, Red Cross volunteers headed out into their communities to reinforce the messages shared on air through door-to-door visits.“The radio programme is very good, because it has given me practical information. I had a cholera case in my family, but based on the measures I heard on the radio, I was able to save my sister’s child who was sick,” explained Talaga Joseph, a listener who called into FM Bénoué—one of the participating radio stations.Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)In DRC, harmful rumours and misinformation about COVID-19 and other diseases have spread across the country in recent years. For example, some people believed the COVID-19 vaccine was a source of income for the government and had no benefit to society, while others believed the measles vaccine was less effective than traditional remedies involving cassava leaves.To address these rumours, DRC Red Cross volunteers went door-to-door to collect community feedback and record common myths and misconceptions. After analysing the feedback, DRC Red Cross staff took to the airwaves—launching interactive radio shows to directly address and debunk health misinformation and provide trusted advice.For example, in Kongo Central province, the DRC Red Cross partners with Radio Bangu to produce a show called ‘Red Cross School’. Listeners call in to check information on different diseases, ask questions, and discover what support they can access from the Red Cross.“The collaboration with the Red Cross is very good and has enabled listeners to learn more about its activities and how they can prevent different illnesses and epidemics. The Red Cross broadcasts are so popular they have increased our overall number of listeners in the area we cover,” says Rigobert Malalako, Station Manager at Radio Bangu.--The activities with local radio featured in this article are just a few examples of media partnerships developed through the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), CP3 supports communities, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other partners to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more, sign up to the IFRC’s Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Newsletter.You can also access the following resources:BBC Media Action’s Guide for the media on communicating in public health emergencies (available in multiple languages)BBC Media Action’s Lifeline programming websiteIFRC Epidemic Control Toolkit

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A deadly start to 2024: Cholera in Zimbabwe spreads rapidly after holiday season

Almost a year ago, the first patient with cholera in Zimbabwe was reported in the town of Chegutu, located about 100 kilometres southwest of the capital Harare. Throughout 2023, the numbers have only increased, as the disease spread to all the country’s ten provinces. During the recent holiday period, there was an additional steep increase as people travelled and gathered to celebrate with their extended families, giving the disease new opportunities to spread. “Our worst fears and predictions for the post-holiday season are confirmed with this upward trend of people contracting cholera," says John Roche, head of IFRC's Country Cluster Delegation for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.“This is especially worrisome for people with vulnerable health, who are the most affected and urgently need assistance.” "With schools starting again and people going back to work, we must act quickly to reduce the numbers now. We have no time to lose; we need to break the cycle as every life in jeopardy is one too many.” No time to lose For this reason, speed is of the essence. Cholera spreads rapidly and easily. Simply drinking or eating something infected with the cholera bacteria can result in infection. This can lead to severe diarrhea and vomiting, sometimes so intense that people lose litres of water per day. The dehydration that followed can lead to death if measures are not put in place to rehydrate quickly. In the capital city, many people live in close quarters and hygiene measures are poor, increasing the risk of becoming ill. With thousands of suspected cholera cases in the capital, Harare has declared a state of emergency. Additionally, sewage and water infrastructure in many places in the country are in dilapidated condition requiring major rehabilitation. Sewage blockages are common, contributing to the rapid spread of the disease. Moreover, people struggle to access clean water for cooking and drinking. Red Cross ready to help Since the beginning of the outbreak, volunteers, and aid workers from the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) have been taking action to combat the spread of cholera and provide care for patients. Volunteers have been visiting communities to inform people on how to protect themselves and their loved ones, as well as what to do if they become ill. ZRCS has also been supporting the Ministry of Health in setting up Cholera treatment to allow individuals with symptoms of cholera access to appropriate care. A total of nine Oral Rehydration Points (ORPs) have been set up throughout the country (in Harare, Mutare district, Masvingo district and Mashonaland). These locations were chosen based on the presence of trained volunteers conducting door-to-door cholera awareness sensitization. A community feedback mechanism has been setup and there are currently community feedback meetings and suggestion boxes at numerous health facilities. So far, community outreach volunteers have connected and shared information with over 171,000 people. To ensure that Red Cross teams can act promptly, the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (IFRC-DREF) allocated roughly 500,000 in June 2023 to support immediate response efforts. Unfortunately, cholera spreads rapidly, and ZRCS needs more funds to ensure that the number of infected individuals reaches zero. For this reason, the IFRC and its members are urging people to support its emergency appeal seeking CHF 3 million to support the ZRCS reach 550,455 people with life-saving assistance and help to contain the outbreak. “This support is vitally needed to combat cholera and help ensure that no more lives are lost to this disease,” says IFRC’s Roche.

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Hunger crisis: ‘Now I can take care of my own family’

In the Lubombo region of Eswatini, near the town of Big Bend, 39-year-old Bongani Masuku looks over at his field of maize. He just harvested a section last week. “But there is still work to do,” Bongani says and starts working the land. Lubombo is one of the hottest areas in Eswatini. As Bongani weeds his field, the temperature has already risen to over 34 degrees. “I remove the weeds so that my maize will grow properly,” he says. “If I let the weeds take over, the seedlings would grow to be very thin and not offer good harvest.” Earlier in the season, Bongani attended an agricultural training, after which he received a cash grant of around 70 euros. He invested the money in maize seeds that are more resilient to drought, as climate change has made rains more irregular and increased drought. Around 70 per cent of Eswatini’s population are directly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. This is why the changing weather conditions are extremely concerning. “The recent heatwaves have really made farming more difficult. The maize should not receive too much sunlight when it is blooming. Rain is important at that stage. The last time the maize was in bloom there was no rain at all, so my harvest was smaller than I expected.” The maize field has a great significance to Bongani. “This allows me to feed my family, but also to sell some of the crops and get money,” he adds. “This money helps me put my children to school. I have five children with my darling wife. Now I can buy them schoolbooks and other school supplies, like pens. If I make enough money, I can also buy them shoes to wear to school.” Prolonged food insecurity Like elsewhere in Southern Africa, people in Eswatini are suffering from a severe and prolonged food security crisis that began in 2015. The drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon, further strengthened by climate change and the irregular rains and floods ever since, have damaged harvests year after year. Bongani is one of the 25,500 people included in the three-year project funded by the European Union to improve food security by means of cash assistance. In addition to the Finnish Red Cross, the project includes the Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society and Belgian Red Cross Flanders. For recipients of the cash grants such as Winile Masuku, the cash assistance has meant the ability to buy food such as rice, maize flour and cooking oil at a time when regular food sources are far less plentiful and more expensive. “Before receiving cash assistance, we were dependent on our neighbours,” Winile explains as she sits in front of her home – its walls made of intricately woven branches and stonework. “Now I can take care of my own family.” Gardening for change While not everyone is a farmer, many people in Eswatini grow a portion of their daily sustenance in local community gardens. This is one reason this climate-resilience project also aims to revive the tradition of community gardens. Part of that effort includes trainings from the Ministry of Agriculture on how to most effectively tend community gardens in the face of more extreme climate conditions. After each training, participants get a cash grant of around 35 euros to buy plant seeds, for example. The participants are encouraged to use crop varieties that require less water. “The garden offers stability to my family, as I employ myself with this and take care of my family,” says Sibongile, one of the participants. “The harvest from the garden allows me to feed my family, and I can also sell some crops to get money for my children’s education.” Health in the countryside It’s also important to ensure that people stay healthy as drought and heat can create conditions that exacerbate the spread of diseases and symptoms such as dehydration. For this reason, the EU-funded project also supports the community in epidemic and pandemic preparedness. The Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society runs three clinics in the country, and the project supports their capacity to respond to different epidemics, such as diarrhoeal diseases, tuberculosis and HIV. “Each morning we offer health advice, meaning that we tell patients what epidemics are currently ongoing,” explains Phumlile Gina, a nurse at the clinic in Hosea Inkhundla in the Shiselweni region. “Right now we are informing them of vaccinations, especially against the coronavirus and tuberculosis. We also highlight proper hygiene: we explain how important it is to wash your hands and also remind people to wash their water containers every now and then.” “Some of our patients here in the countryside are very poor,” she adds. “They can come to the clinic for some completely other reason, for a flu for example. But we may then notice that the growth of the patient’s child is clearly stunted and there is reason to suspect malnourishment.” “We are able to take care of such situations as well and monitor the condition of the patients. It feels great when a patient comes back to the clinic after six months and says that their child is doing great and playing like other children.” The Programmatic Partnership between the IFRC network and the European Union, provides strategic, flexible, long-term and predictable funding, so that National Societies can act before an emergency occurs. It is being implemented worldwide including 13 countries in Africa.

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Uganda: School Health Club helps students and communities stay safe from diseases

“The School Health Club has taught us how to look after our health. I also bring the knowledge I learn from the club to my home, and my parents take those messages to the wider community.”These are the words of Kikanshemeza, a pupil at Mwisi Primary school in south-west Uganda and proud member of her School Health Club.Set up by the Uganda Red Cross, the School Health Club helps primary and secondary school pupils understand how to protect themselves from various disease threats, stay healthy, and share their newfound knowledge with their fellow pupils, families, and wider communities.It’s one of the many different activities under the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3) – a multi-country programme run by the IFRC and seven Red Cross National Societies to help communities, first responders, and other partners prepare for, detect, prevent, and respond to health risks.Since joining her School Health Club, Kikanshemeza has built a tippy tap—a simple, low-cost handwashing facility that can help reduce up to 50% of avoidable infections—in her home, supported her family to use it regularly and properly, and shared life-saving information about different diseases.“She told us not to eat the meat of animals that have died and to make sure they are buried properly, and also that bats are a potential cause of Ebola and monkeys can transmit it too,” explains Kikanshemeza’s mother, Annet.Knowledge is powerKikanshemeza is one of 30 School Health Club members at Mwisi Primary school. The club meets up once a week in special sessions led by Akampurira, a facilitator from the Uganda Red Cross, who teaches them all about different diseases—including how to recognize signs and symptoms, which people might be most at risk, and actions the students can take to stop diseases from spreading.Club members are then responsible for maintaining school handwashing facilities, making sure all students follow proper hygiene practices, and sharing what they’ve learned with their follow students—often through large, theatrical performances in the school hall.Students act out informative and lively scenes: everything from a patient seeking help from a doctor after noticing signs of malaria, to a person being bitten by a dog in the street and rushing to get vaccinated.Tackling serious health issues in this more fun and light-hearted way helps break down complex topics, keeps fellow students engaged, and helps them retain the knowledge in case they need it in future.Why involve school children in epidemic preparedness?The IFRC and our member National Societies have long focused on helping people prepare for, respond to, and recover from epidemics.We know from experience that effective epidemic preparedness must involve communities themselves, first responders, and partners from across all parts of society – such as schools.“School health clubs have been a game changer in health risk communication, as engaged learners have been excellent peer educators in school, and also change agents at the household level,” explains Henry Musembi, CP3 Programme Delegate for Uganda and Kenya.“The clubs are a great platform for training the next generation of epidemic emergency responders and champions in target communities,” he adds.Seeing positive changeKushaba, another School Health Club member whose brother had previously suffered from malaria, says he’s learned a lot from the club and has noticed positive change in his community:“We learned how we can control malaria by slashing compounds, draining all stagnant water to destroy habitat for mosquitoes, and how you can use a treated mosquito net.”“Before the introduction of the School Health Club, we didn’t have tippy taps, we didn’t know how to use toilets, even how we can clean our school. Pupils, they were suffering from diseases like malaria, cholera, but now because of the School Health Club, they are fine,” he adds.--The School Health Club in Mwisi is one of several set up in Uganda and other countries through the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3).Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the programme runs in seven countries and supports communities, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other partners to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.If you enjoyed this story and would like to learn more:Visit our Epidemic and pandemic preparedness webpageSign up to the IFRC’s epidemic and pandemic preparedness newsletter

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From bombing to blackouts: Palestine Red Crescent teams navigate life-and-death challenges to save lives

Ever since armed violence erupted in Israel and the Gaza Strip on October 7, the work of emergency service crews has continued non-stop, often in the most harrowing of circumstances. Every day, Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance crews head out into the streets of Gaza, saving lives while risking their own, as even ambulances and hospitals have come under attack. Since the beginning, PRCS teams have been tirelessly responding, providing first aid and psychosocial support, transporting the dead and distributing essential aid as the fighting continues. Sadly, four PRCS volunteers lost their lives while on duty, making their colleagues’ work even more difficult as they try to cope with the loss. “To be completely honest, I am afraid, much like everyone else,” Haitham Deir, a PRCS paramedic working at the Rafah branch. “I left my children at home with no access to food, water or electricity. When I’m on duty, I call them periodically to check on them, and this constant worrying is overwhelming, adding to the fact that we face gunfire and constant bombing, and some of us get injured or die. “All of these challenges take a toll on our psychological well-being. Nevertheless, we persist. It’s a moral obligation, and I will continue to work until the very end.” ‘Our eyes and ears’ Apart from the incessant bombing and gunfire, PRCS crews have been struggling with intermittent communications blackouts, which means there’s often no way for people to call in for an ambulance when there is an attack. This has heavily obstructed their response. However, the PRCS ambulance teams have found creative ways to ensure paramedics can find people when there is an urgent need. “We strategically placed our ambulances, and we had to use our eyes and ears to watch out for bombings,” says Mohammed Abu Musabih, director of operations and emergencies for the PRCS in the Gaza strip. “Teams were then dispatched to areas that were bombed, because that’s where people will most likely need assistance.” “We also placed ambulances near hospitals, and we relied on arriving ambulances carrying injured people to give us information about the location they came from,” he continued. “The ambulance crews then headed off to the location.” Unfortunately, in most cases, even the most creative attempts have been ineffective as PRCS teams find it extremely difficult to reach people in need due to infrastructure damage, roadblocks and military sieges going on in various parts of the city. Supplies running out, winter coming on The situation inside Gaza hospitals has been all the more tragic, with doctors and nurses resorting to traditional medicine as supplies ran out. Many hospitals were forced to suspend their services due to lack of fuel. Thousands of Palestinians have also sought refuge in hospitals, but after coming under siege, many people - including the sick and wounded - had to evacuate, with nowhere to go. A great deal of affected people in Gaza are currently living in tents or open spaces; this leaves them extremely vulnerable as winter approaches, and with it comes the threat of flooding and the potential spread of disease. PRCS ambulance crews and other volunteers will be there doing whatever they can to ensure people get the best possible care under the circumstances. As of December 11, PRCS crews have provided emergency care to more than 11,000 people and they transported the bodies of more than 3,500 people who died due to the fighting. Crews in the West Bank have cared for more than 3,000 injuries and transported more than 80 people killed in the conflict. “Ever since the hostilities began, the Palestine Red Crescent Society teams and volunteers were on the frontline saving lives, day-in and day out, with no break,” says Hossam Elsharkawi, regional director for Middle East and North Africa. “The unprecedented level of challenges they faced is beyond comprehension. We highly salute them; they have shown humanity at its best. In parallel, we call on the international community to fast-track diplomatic solutions that address root causes, including an end to the inhumane siege on Gaza, and enable more humanitarian aid to get into all parts of Gaza, including fuel.”

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Nigeria: A community response that is saving lives

By Ene Abba/IFRC When Red Cross volunteers came to her neighborhood, distributing flyers and sensitizing residents about diphtheria Aisha Adam Ibrahim did not take them seriously at first. "I was dismissive at first when the Red Cross volunteers brought the information on diphtheria to our doorstep,” she says. “But that knowledge saved my life." When Aisha fell ill, those information sharing sessions played a crucial role, says Ibrahim, who lives with her extended family in Ungogo community in Kano state. Recognizing the symptoms early, she sought medical help promptly, potentially saving her life. Since December 2022, diphtheria has been spreading across Nigeria, posing a community-wide challenge. Communal living, close-knit neighbourhoods, and shared spaces play a big role both in how this outbreak is spreading and its mitigation. Kano state, with its large diverse population and unique architectural landscape, faces distinctive challenges in combating the spread of this epidemic. As the epicentre of this crisis, Kano is where 80 per cent of all reported cases in Nigeria originate. With a large population compounded by the close-knit nature of the houses, diphtheria finds an easy transmission from person to person. Aisha lives in such a close-knit neighbourhood, and as a primary school teacher interacts constantly with children in her community. Aisha encountered heartbreaking stories at the hospital where she was admitted for treatment. One such grieving parent is Surraya Musa, who lost her only two children to diphtheria within a week. Surraya now dedicates herself to educating neighbours and communities about the severity of the outbreak, imploring parents to heed the advice of Red Cross Volunteers regarding vaccination and hygiene practices. "I tell my neighbours to listen to what the Red Cross volunteers say,” she says. “I lost all my children, I don't want any parent to experience what I did." New Red Cross volunteers Amina Abdullahi and Maryam Ibrahim are also advocates in their communities. Having gone through training, they actively participate in Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE), active case searches, and contact tracing. Amina and Maryam express their fulfilment in supporting their community during this challenging time. "Being part of the Red Cross allows me to make a difference. I feel responsible for protecting my community," says Amina. Maryam adds: "It's a tough time for everyone, but seeing the impact we can make on people's lives makes it all worthwhile." Red Cross Intervention The severity of the outbreak prompted the Nigeria Red Cross Society (NRCS) to step in and collaborate with the government in March 2023. With a DREF allocation of CHF 430,654 from the IFRC, NRCS launched a multifaceted response. Over 4.9 million people have been reached through public health prevention, RCCE activities, and 760 volunteers trained in diphtheria prevention. Meanwhile, more than 920,000 people have been mobilized for vaccination through 120 trained teams, and 1,915 suspected cases have been referred to health facilities through NRCS volunteers, as of early December 2023. As the outbreak gained momentum, IFRC has scaled up its diphtheria emergency appeal to 5.4 million CHF. This support is what allows people such as Salisu Garba to continue the life-saving work. As health coordinator for NRCS in Kano, he walks through the communities and interacts with the locals in a manner that exudes familiarity with the street corners and the names of neighbourhood vendors. He highlights the critical role of close relationships with community leaders. This trust and access enable the Red Cross to take effective actions, ensuring that diphtheria will be stopped as quickly as possible. "Our connection with communities allows us to reach more people effectively,” he says. “Together, we are working tirelessly to ensure that every person in Kano is informed, vaccinated, and protected from diphtheria."

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Preventing gender-based violence and HiV: Hloniphile Zinya's mission to protect youth from sickness and violence

Article and interview by Sindisiwe Mkhize In the heart of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, Hloniphile Zinya is making a significant impact in the fight against HIV and gender-based violence (GBV). Hailing from the vibrant community of Amahlongwa, Hloniphile shares her personal story, shedding light on her experiences, motivations, successes, and the existing gaps in her crucial role as a Youth Officer at the provincial office of the South African Red Cross. “I grew up in an era where young people couldn’t freely talk to their parents or adults about sexual reproductive health or gender-based issues,” she says. “This then contributed to a lot of young people becoming victims [of sexual abuse, violence or of sexually transmitted diseases]. “Then I got a job a moved to town where I was also introduced to Red Cross and became a volunteer,” she adds. “I immediately knew that what Red Cross was providing was exactly what my community needed. I wanted to see change in my community especially the youth. I wanted the young people of my community to realise their strengths.” As a youth officer, Hloniphile supervises seven branches in Kwa-Zulu Natal, or KZN, steering the youth program with the assistance of branch coordinators. Her responsibilities extend to visiting branches, providing implementation support, and conducting vital training sessions on sexual and reproductive health. A deep understanding Through her work, she has gained a profound understanding of the diverse community dynamics and their contributions to issues related to HIV and GBV. “I have also observed that GBV survivors undergo a lot of post trauma that in most cases influences the way they respond to life,” she says. “Most of the survivors are judged by others, thus making it difficult for them to come out and speak about their experiences.” During her experiences, Hloniphile has encountered the harsh realities faced by victims of GBV, noting that post-trauma often influences decisions they make in life. “Men are also facing a lot of abuse, but the society has taught them to never show pain,” she adds, noting that this can have a profound impact on the way they live their lives. Hloniphile reflects on the changing attitudes toward HIV prevention, observing that, despite education efforts primarily targeting rural areas, youth in urban centres neglect preventive measures once they leave for further studies. “Most of the youth is practising unhealthy behaviour,” she laments. “The attention of education was mostly given to rural and semi-rural areas with the perception of that they are deprived of information. But the same youth comes to the city to further their studies and forget all that they have been taught.” Investing in the future When asked about her motivation, Hloniphile passionately expresses her dedication to holistic youth development, emphasizing the transformative power of investing in the health, both physical and mental, of the future leaders. Here’s what she says when asked her more about what gets her up in the morning every day. Q: What motivates you to do what you do? A: I want to see an evident change in behaviour in people. especially young people. It is said that the youth are the future leaders so investing in them holistically so that they are healthy even in the aspects of physical and mental health is worth doing every day. Furthermore, witnessing that change through results, for me is great motivation to keep doing more. Q: What does it mean to you? A: To me, the impact of facilitating change in the lives of young people is very personal. The youth of the rural and semi-rural communities were left out and don’t have access to knowledge and information. Our activities enable youth to have a healthy mind and body, thus giving them far better chances to be trusted future leaders. Q: Why do I feel its important to your community? A: I feel that sooner or later young people are going to get into leadership and when that time comes, they must be holistically equipped. Another thing is that my community has had quite an intense number of GBV cases, and some victims never lived to tell the story. Most communities are still struggling with adherence to medications. Gender equality is still another matter that communities need to be educated on. Gender and sexuality crimes are still rife so I feel the community needs us more and more. Q: What have been some of your biggest successes so far? A: Our successes thus far include establishing a Provincial PSS focal person for counselling, building strong relationships with local municipalities, and becoming a master trainer for health workers, contributing to combating HIV, GBV, and early pregnancies. Q: What are some of your biggest challenges? A: Despite these achievements, there are significant gaps in our efforts, such as an unfunded youth program leading to volunteer loss, the need for more interventions targeting perpetrators of GBV, advocating for early intervention strategies in schools, urging for a SARCS hotline for victims in need, and emphasizing the importance of intensive, beneficiary-friendly education.

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3 billion mosquito nets shipped to prevent malaria

Geneva – 30 Nov 2023 / On the same day the World Health Organization releases its 2023 World Malaria Report, the  Alliance for Malaria Prevention (AMP) reveals that a significant milestone has been reached. Three billion insecticide treated nets (ITNs) have been shipped since 2004 to prevent malaria, most of them to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These ITNs are estimated to be responsible for two-thirds of the reduction in malaria cases over the past decades. Thanks to the efforts of national malaria programmes and partners, about 68% of households across sub-Saharan Africa own at least one net. Most of these nets have been bought via funds from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the United States President’s Malaria Initiative, UNICEF and the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF).  In 2022 alone, more than 190 million ITNs were distributed globally by National Malaria Programmes in malaria endemic countries. Of these 180 million were distributed in sub-Saharan Africa.  Petra Khoury, Director of the Health and Care Department at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which houses the Alliance for Malaria Prevention (AMP), said:  “Three billion is a staggering number – a number reached by phenomenal efforts by people in many countries. Those nets have, over two decades, saved countless lives. Malaria will continue to be a threat, particularly in a warming world. But insecticide treated nets are the most effective tool we have to tackle it.”    In 2004, Togo rolled out the very first nationwide mosquito net campaign targeting children under five years of age with an integrated package of life-saving interventions. Twenty years and six ITN mass distribution campaigns later, Dr Tinah Atcha-Oubou, coordinator of the Togo National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), says the mass distribution of bed nets has had a dramatically positive impact on malaria mortality and mobility. Dr Atcha-Oubou says the NMCP in Togo is aiming for malaria elimination.   ‘We have a vision for our country, a Togo without malaria. We want to free communities from the burden of malaria to improve the economic growth of Togo. Malaria prevention strategies have shown promising results, we also have access to efficient tools to reach this goal. We are hopeful that we can eliminate malaria in the same way that many other countries already have’.   Access to and use of mosquito nets are essential to keep Togo on track for malaria elimination. Investments from partners at national and international level must continue to ensure that the country can keep working towards this goal.  The Alliance for Malaria Prevention’s Net Mapping Project has been independently tracking net shipments from the very first national campaign in 2004 in Togo. Funded by the United Nations Foundation through the United to Beat Malaria campaign,andledby the IFRC, the Net Mapping Project data informs the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report each year, feeding into modeled estimates of ITN coverage across the globe.  Global partners commented on the milestone:  ‘Nets are one of the best tools in our arsenal in the fight to end malaria. The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative is proud to support this historic milestone and applauds the work of AMP and our partners to strengthen the capacity of national malaria programs to distribute nets to the communities that need them most and to track and report data.’  Dr. David Walton, U.S. President’s Global Malaria Coordinator  “The Global Fund remains committed to improving the lives of communities suffering under the burden of malaria. Helping the countries we support ensure optimal vector control coverage is a cornerstone of our malaria strategy. The milestone of 3 billion ITNs should be celebrated and act as catalyst to further drive towards achieving and sustaining this life saving intervention.”  Scott Filler, Head of Malaria, Technical Advice and Partnerships Department, Global Fund  "This landmark achievement of shipping 3 billion insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) represents a crucial step forward in our fight against malaria. The widespread distribution of ITNs with intensive Behaviour Change Communication at community level has contributed significantly to reducing malaria transmission, protecting vulnerable populations, and saving lives.   Keziah Malm, National Coordination of National Malaria Elimination Program in Ghana  Further Information: In the last few years, an increasing proportion of ITNs shipped have contained active ingredients designed to mitigate the effects of insecticide resistance. In 2022, of the 281.5 million ITNs that manufacturers delivered to malaria endemic countries, 47% were treated with a synergist, pyrethroid-piperonyl butoxide (PBO), and 8% were dual active ingredient ITNs, which have combined insecticides with different modes of action.  While protecting people from malaria remains critical, the global community also recognises the environmental footprint of ITNs for vector control from the point of manufacture through exit from the supply chain given the heavy reliance on plastic for the nets themselves and their packaging. Responsible collection and disposal of plastic waste at the point of distribution and as nets become unserviceable for malaria prevention is, therefore, an integral part of many national malaria programmes’ vector control strategies.  Global and national stakeholders and partners are working together to find solutions to limit the amount of waste generated and to ensure more sustainable and environmentally focused supply chains for vector control with ITNs.    Despite the efforts of national malaria programs and their funding, the latest World Malaria Report notes that global malaria cases and deaths in 2022 were higher than in 2019, mostly due to the disruption of services during the COVID19 pandemic. Countries most affected include Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Papua New Guinea. The World Health Organization estimates that there were 608’000 malaria deaths in 2022 – 32’000 more deaths than in the year before the pandemic.   The 2023 World Malaria Report also highlights that the funding gap between the amount invested in malaria control and elimination and the resources needed continues to widen. It grew from US$2.3 billion in 2018 to US$ 3.7 billion globally in 2022. Despite the shortage of funding, continued research and development to address insecticide resistance reinforced efforts of national malaria programs and their partners to deliver services to all populations at risk. Significant work to generate sufficient funding to support national malaria strategic plans remain critical in ensuring that the fight against malaria remains on track towards the WHO 2030 targets.    For further details please contact: [email protected]   Andrew Thomas   International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent +41763676587  Tommaso Della Longa   International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent +41797084367  There are spokespeople available to talk about this announcement, including Petra Khoury, the IFRC’s Director of Health and Care.    Partners:   The Alliance for Malaria Prevention receives funding support from USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United Nations Foundation (UNF).  Since 2013, the Net Mapping Project has been funded by the United Nations Foundation and the IFRC. 

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Central African Republic: Red Cross project gives a boost to a weakened health system

IFRC's Muriel Atsama and Bienvenue Doumta, head of communications at the Central African Red Cross, visited several of these facilities and filed this report. It's 7.30 am when we arrive at the Sakai health centre. On the benches outside, several patients are waiting to be examined by Don de Dieu, who is the head nurse that day. Among the many patients sitting on the benches is Rebecca, who is holding her sick daughter in her hand. "My family and I used to come here for consultations when we were ill," she says. "The nurses treat us well and we get free medication”. Located about thirty kilometres from the capital, Bangui, the Sakai centre receives patients from 36 villages. Renovated in 2020 by the Central African Red Cross (CARC), it previously consisted of a single building made of earth and was in a state of advanced deterioration. Now the centre now has two buildings, including a maternity hospital, a room for maternal, child-health and family-planning, a child consultation room, and a child hospitalisation room. There is also a dispensary with a five-bed hospital ward, a treatment room, a laboratory, and a pharmacy. In previous years, the centre had only the bare minimum to accommodate and treat patients. The renovation and equipping of the centre by the Red Cross has been a breath of fresh air for the whole village. The aim of these renovations was to make the Minimum Package of Activities, a basic standard for heath services, available to the people here. "The health centre has changed a lot and has really improved," adds Rebecca. "We can see it in the equipment the nurses use to look after us. Today, more than ever, we come here for consultations, and we're satisfied." For Don de Dieu, these improvements also make it possible to offer hospital services to a greater number of people, consistently and over a longer period. "Thanks to the project, we have benefited from solar panels that provide continuous electricity," he explains. "We can now carry out patient examinations at any time and store our products in better conditions". The centre has also received an incinerator for waste management, as well as beds, office space, a waste-sorting shed and a borehole for pumping water from the ground. "Thanks to this new facility, the number of patients attending the Sakai health centre has increased exponentially", adds Don de Dieu. "From around a hundred patients a month in the past, we now welcome more than 500 patients from the surrounding villages.” Pride of the village A little further on, we meet Charles, the chief of the village of Sakaï. He explains that this new building is the pride of his village and the surrounding villages. What's more, his entire community gets safe drinking water from the borehole. "The borehole at the Sakaï health centre is a source of water that serves the whole community," says Charles. The Sakai health centre is not the only one to have benefited from these rehabilitations. A total of 14 other health centres across the country and one hospital have received a wide range of equipment, including an ambulance, an X-ray machine and other equipment required to meet the necessary standards. Our visit continued at Bangui University's Faculty of Health Sciences, where we were welcomed by the Dean, Professor Boniface Koffi. "Thanks to the Red Cross and its donors, all the offices have been renovated,” he said. “The roofs of some buildings have been replaced, as has the electricity. We have also received office furniture, around 1,200 chairs and tables for the comfort of our students, as well as around twenty microscopes.” The University of Bangui was founded in 1969, and the two buildings that make up the Faculty of Science and Health were constructed in 1970 and 1980. Since then, they had not been renovated, and crises weakened them. A perfect illustration In addition to this equipment, the Red Cross has equipped the faculty's digital library with 35 desktop computers, eight laptops and video projectors. "We are very grateful for this major donation from the Central African Red Cross, which has breathed new life into our faculty,” he concludes. “But as you know, the hand that receives asks for more. We would like to have many more classrooms to accommodate and train even more students. Our country badly needs them for the well-being of the population". Our journey ends at the Central African Red Cross University Institute for Paramedical Training, where we are welcomed by Honorine Konzelo, Director of the Institute studies. Created in 2010, the initial building was constructed at the CARC headquarters. Following the crisis that hit the country, the institute was relocated to an abandoned primary school that was in urgent need of renovation. Today, it has three laboratory rooms, a library and lecture theatres. The Red Cross is also paying the salary of the staff accountant, who has also worked as a teacher since the project began. "Our institute is a perfect illustration of the Red Cross's commitment to the well-being of young people, who need high-quality training, and to the population, which needs qualified health workers," says Ms Honorine. The CAR health system reconstruction project has been implemented by the Central African Red Cross since 2018 thanks to technical support from IFRC. Funded by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KFW), the project is in its second phase of implementation, which will run until 2026.

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IFRC Secretary General statement at the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on Universal Health Coverage

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. UHC political declaration marks one of the most ambitious gatherings on health. I am happy to share the perspective of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on this important topic. Through our experience reaching 1 billion people with health services during COVID-19, I can tell you that a primary health care approach is the only way we stand a chance to achieve universal health coverage and to ensure no one is left behind, both in times of crisis and stability. Resilient health systems focused on primary health care (PHC) with enough trained health workers, data capacity, and well-functioning basic services are better prepared to prevent and respond to health emergencies. Health emergencies often differ from other emergencies in their complexities, their scope, durations, and in response approach. Here are the shifts needed to embed the PHC during health emergencies, this comes from the IFRC study on recent COVID19 pandemic: First and foremost: trust. Governments must do the groundwork to build trust with the public before health emergencies - people won’t use even the best health systems if they don’t trust them. How do we do this? -Proximity: People trust people they know, such as community members. -Education: People trust what they understand, via health literacy programmes. -Listening: People trust those who listen to them and act on their concerns, such as trained community engagement specialists who gather feedback and analyse it. -Access to services: People trust those who address their needs, including their basic health and social protection needs. -Ownership: People trust measures they feel ownership of and are consulted on. Second is equity. Do not exclude anyone. Equity is fundamental element of embedding PHC during emergencies. Migrants, refugees and other disadvantaged communities are the worst impacted by health emergencies. We need to address formal and informal barriers to access to health and other essential services, including stigma and discrimination. Data driven decision making significantly helps to ensure inclusion. Embedding a PHC approach requires integrating health information systems to facilitate real time data sharing and evidence-based decision making. Finally, local action. Strong Community Health Systems that combine the power of communities and technologies: We must prioritize health systems strengthening at the community level, with a well-resourced and protected community health workforce to match. To do this, a much greater portion of existing health financing needs to go to the local level. Universal health Coverage plans must be tailored to the communities they serve by putting them at the center of policy design. It is groundbreaking that governments have committed in paragraph 104 of the declaration to involve local communities in the design of universal health coverage plans, and to find ways of enhancing participatory and inclusive approaches to health governance. Excellencies, humanitarian needs are only growing, and global health is at a crossroads: without systemic change, we will only achieve health for some, and not health for all. Strong governance and leadership are expected of all of us. In the decades since the Alma-Ata Declaration, the international community has focused more on diseases rather than on individuals, and on treatment rather than on prevention. We can’t continue down the same path and expect a different result. Today must represent a shift towards a community-driven, primary health care-first model to global health systems. Thank you.

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REACH initiative

Our Resilient and Empowered African Community Health (REACH) initiative, in partnership with Africa CDC, aims to improve the health of communities across Africa by scaling upeffective, people-centred and integrated community health workforces and systems.

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‘Anonymous Clinic’ offers safe haven and caretakers who understand

While Thai culture is relatively open in terms of gender identity, transgender people in Thailand continue to face discrimination and exclusion in many aspects of life. Health care is no exception. “The topic of gender diversity isn’t widely discussed [in Thailand]”, says Piglet, a transgender woman who lives in Bangkok. “Sometimes I’m not able to talk to anyone about it because it makes me feel nervous”. Piglet (not her real name) is a client at the Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic, a health centre in the heart of Bangkok designed to help people get health services without fear of being identified or of feeling stigmatized because of her gender or sexual identity. Understanding the challenges The goal is to create an environment where transgender individuals can openly discuss hormone treatment, sexual orientation, and other related issues with healthcare providers who understand their needs and what they are going through. Because transgender people often confront discrimination or a lack of understanding of the unique health needs, they often experience physical, mental and emotional stress when seeking out care. This is especially true during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, according to recent health studies. In some circumstances, this anxiety may prevent people from getting care or lead them to avoid seeking care. The Thai Red Cross Society has long been dedicated to reaching out to marginalized communities, including transgender people and men who have sex with men, in their efforts to combat HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Services for optimal health The Anonymous Clinic offers a wide range of services, including counselling, testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, hormone monitoring, gender-affirming hormone therapy, neovagina examination, anal cancer screening, and Hepatitis A/B vaccination. “The main mission of the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre (Anonymous Clinic) is to provide effective prevention measures, widely known as PreP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)”, explains Chanin Suksom, a psychologist at the Anonymous Clinic. “The health services we provide represent an equal opportunity to everyone at a very low cost”. While the clinic was initially established in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it now plays a critical role in providing gender-affirming services and improving the overall well-being of transgender individuals. “During the past year, we assisted approximately 360 transgender clients, from which over 200 of them accessed services for free”, says Suksom. By offering a comprehensive range of services and fostering a safe and inclusive environment, the Anonymous Clinic empowers transgender individuals to take control of their health and well-being. “People who have come to the clinic for the first time are usually reluctant to talk about their stories. So, we ask informal open-ended questions”, explains Naiyapak Chaipun, a counsellor at the Anonymous Clinic who is herself transgender. “We sometimes chat in a very casual way. We encourage them to take things step by step without forcing them”, she says. For people like Piglet, the Anonymous Clinic has become a safe haven, where people can learn how to better take care of themselves. “I brought my friends to the Anonymous Clinic because they feel shy, and it reminds me of my own experience when I felt frustrated and didn’t know where to go”, she describes. “I think the Anonymous Clinic is a great place for transgender people to access health services. A place where we can love ourselves and where we can learn how to keep ourselves healthy in the long run”. -- This story was produced and originally published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. To learn about the Magazine, and to read more stories like this,click here.

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Gardens of health: Preparing nutritious meals for new and expectant mothers in Zimbabwe

Bending over her traditional clay cookstove, 38-year-old Lucky Mazangesure stirs the simmering ingredients in a small saucepan: fried-green bananas in stew of tomatoes and onions. As the fire crackles, the scent of woodsmoke mixes with the savory-sweet aroma of the saucy, steaming treat. “Trust me,” she says, “after eating this banana dish you won’t be able to stop.” She can’t resist a quick taste – just to make sure it’s coming out the way it should. “I really love cooking,” she says. “I like tasting the food while cooking. It makes me happy and it keeps my stomach full.” Then she checks on some simmering beans and starts preparing another local delicacy: pumpkin porridge with roasted peanuts, which will be complimented by cooked spinach and broccoli. This diverse meal does a lot more than keep her full, she adds. It gives her body the vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohyrdates she needs to keep herself and her infant, nursing child healthy. Like many new mothers here in Chibuwe, in southeastern Zimbabwe, Lucky is able to prepare these well-balanced meals thanks to a garden at the Chibuwe Health Clinic, which is tended largely by pregnant woman and new mothers who visit the clinic for pre-natal and post-partum care. The garden got started several years ago as part of a larger initiative by the British Red Cross and the Zimbabwe Red Cross to set up gardens for expecting and new mothers at hospitals and local health clinics, where health workers were witnessing worsening nutrition levels among women and young children. In a region hard hit by drought, windstorms, cyclones and flash floods, many legumes, fruits and root crops that are rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals are hard to get. Infant malnutrition here has been on the rise in recent years, with some estimates suggesting that roughly one-third of children under 5 are malnourished. Covid-19 has only aggravated the situation by disrupting regional and local food distribution systems. “It’s hard for expecting mothers in this community to get a decent meal,” says Robert Magweva, a nurse at the Chibuwe Health Clinic, adding that too often, people must rely only on sadza [sorghum], a carbohydrate, and a limited range of leafy vegetables. “It’s a major challenge to have a well-balanced diet here. So the vegetables that are grown in the clinic garden help them to get a well-balanced meal.” As a mark of the programme’s success, most of these gardens are now sustained entirely by the clinics, hospitals and the communities around them, with support of local agriculture experts and local Zimbabwe Red Cross volunteers. Better farming for a changing climate Still, growing one’s own food in this environment is not easy. The climate has generally gotten hotter and drier, with dry spells punctuated by intense storms and winds, and unpredictable rains. Scorching heat evaporates water quickly and can easily whither young seedlings. “At this clinic garden, we were taught smart agriculture techniques as a way of combating the effects that climate change was having on our harvest,” says Beauty Manyazda, another new mother who works regularly at the Chibuwe Clinic garden. “We learnt techniques such as conservation farming and mulching.” Conservation farming is an approach that aims to improve soil moisture and health by minimising the intensive tilling and plowing associated with large-scale crop production. Mulching is one very common conservation technique in which straw, leaves or other organic matter is laid down on the soil between the crops. This keeps moisture from evaporating, while discouraging weeds and providing nutrients to the soil as the mulch decays. Such techniques are increasingly critical as climate change makes farming more difficult. “Our rainfall patterns have changed over the years,” explains Lucky. “We used to get rain in October, when we would sow the seeds for our crops. Now, we get rains in January. So the seeds we put in the ground get damaged waiting for the rainfall.” Meanwhile, storms, droughts and heatwaves have become more and more intense, says Lucky. “Temperatures have continued to rise and this has resulted in regular, violent winds,” she notes. “These winds have destroyed our homes. We also get floods which also contribute to the destruction.” Amid these challenges, the garden provides also provides other nourishing ingredients: the joy and satisfaction of being able to work and provide sustenance while also being among plants, close the soil with other women at her side. “I love gardening,” says Lucky, her baby tied to her back, fast asleep as she picks a handful of chard. “The green nature of the garden warms my heart. With the garden, I know my family will always have a home-grown, nutritious meal.” -- This story was produced and originally published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. To learn about the Magazine, and to read more stories like this, click here.

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Vanuatu: One month on since double cyclones, rising cases of Leptospirosis a concern

Port Vila, 31 March 2023 – There are grave concerns over the increase in Leptospirosis cases, a bacterial disease, one month on from the double category 4 cyclones in Vanuatu. The country has reported 19 new cases of Leptospirosis and three deaths since the cyclone passed. The majority of cases have been in Santo and Efate islands, with a few cases in Malekula, Pentecost, Malo and Erromango. Vanuatu Red Cross is working in coordination with authorities to curb the situation with health awareness in communities across the six provinces. Vanuatu Red Cross Secretary General, Dickinson Tevi said: "It is usually in the aftermath of any cyclone that we see an increase in diseases such as Leptospirosis. Flooded waters have contaminated water sources, animals have been affected, and people who are in contact with these animals and infected water sources, usually get it." "Our volunteers are raising awareness on these issues, including to watch out for symptoms, when they visit the communities with relief distributions. Teams are also raising awareness on other diseases such as typhoid and dengue fever which are also common in the aftermath of a cyclone. They are advising communities to practice safe hygiene and to boil all drinking water. Cleaning their surroundings is also important to prevent dengue fever." Vanuatu Red Cross has so far reached over 9,000 people with immediate relief assistance. Over 1,000 shelter toolkits, 2,500 tarpaulins, 1,600 mosquito nets, 800 hygiene kits, 250 dignity kits which includes sanitary hygiene items for women and girls, and 1,400 jerry cans for storing water have been distributed to severely affected communities. The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) continue to work with Vanuatu Red Cross and partners to provide essential support to the teams on the ground. Emergency funds totalling 799,389 Swiss Francs has been released to support Vanuatu Red Cross with their operations over the next six months – until September, 2023. Head of the IFRC Pacific Office, Katie Greenwood, said: "We continue to provide critical support to Vanuatu Red Cross and the affected communities. Families are slowly picking up the pieces and the Red Cross is right there assisting them get back on their feet.” “In the coming weeks and months, we will focus on early recovery efforts in the form of water source rehabilitation through rainwater harvesting and restoring livelihoods through cash voucher assistance.” For more information, contact: In Suva: Soneel Ram, +679 998 3688, [email protected]

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Malawi: Red Cross scales up response to worst cholera outbreak in two decades

Malawi, 25 January 2023—Malawi is currently facing its worst cholera outbreak in two decades, with over 29,000 cases reported and more than 900 people dead. The Malawi Red Cross, in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and in-country partners—Danish Red Cross-led consortium and Swiss Red Cross—is scaling up its cholera response to assist over two million people. Since the first recorded case in February 2022, cases have continued to spread, with all 29 districts affected. Cholera is now putting over 10 million people at risk, including more than five million children. “Malawi Red Cross Society is committed to continue supporting the Government of Malawi in responding to the cholera outbreak and other health emergencies. We are grateful to the IFRC and other Movement partners for continued finance and technical assistance to the MRCS Cholera response plan,” said McBain Kanongodza, Secretary General for the Malawi Red Cross Society. According to the Malawi Ministry of Health’s cholera update on 22 January 2023, over 29,364 cases and 960 fatalities were reported, leaving the fatality rate at 3.27 per cent, which is considerably higher than the acceptable rate of less than 1 per cent set by WHO. The Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) is already providing lifesaving treatment at the community level by administering Oral Rehydration Therapy. Volunteers ensure that water supplies are safe and that sanitation facilities are working. They also go door-to-door to raise awareness on preventing the disease from spreading. With the rainy season underway, it is crucial that people take precautions to protect themselves and their families. “We have been monitoring the developments on the ground since the first cases, and we are deeply concerned that this outbreak has taken a foothold in every corner of Malawi. We need to support the joint efforts of the MOH and Malawi Red Cross in their response to this devastating situation. As the outbreak worsens, partnerships are crucial to ensure lives are saved,” said John Roche, Head of IFRC’s Delegation for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The IFRC and its membership are launching an Emergency Appeal seeking 5.2 million Swiss francs, which will help the Malawi Red Cross reach a further 1,385,391 people in need of assistance. Malawi Red Cross and its partners with the IFRC aim to target 15 affected districts, with the core objectives being to prevent and control the spread of the outbreak, reduce morbidity and mortality due to cholera and improve the availability of safe water and sanitation facilities, through continued support to communities and district health offices. For more information, please contact: In Lilongwe: Felix Washon, +265 999 95 57 21, [email protected] In Harare: Ella Mcsharry, +263 78 689 3350, [email protected] In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, [email protected] In Geneva: Marie Claudet, +1 202 999 8689, [email protected]

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Lights, camera, action! How cinema is saving lives in Cameroon

Combining both learning and entertainment, mobile cinema has, over the years, become a prominent way of engaging remote communities around the world on a wide range of important topics—everything from how to stay healthy, to how to prepare for disasters. Each mobile cinema kit contains a projection screen and tripod, laptop, microphones and speakers and a generator so they can still run even in the face of power cuts. Since receiving the kits, the Cameroon Red Cross has been using mobile cinema to share life-saving messages about COVID-19, cholera, and any others relevant topics, which will help people to prepare and stay safe. All in an exciting and effective way, and within a community’s own environment. "Mobile cinema allows us to provide the right information that communities need in the fight against epidemics and disasters of all forms. This fun and useful tool is undoubtedly allowing us to improve our humanitarian response across the country,” Cécile Akamé President of the Cameroon Red Cross Mobile cinema screenings aren’t just about sitting back and watching. They’re also a great way to engage communities through question-and-answer sessions and to gather people’s valuable feedback. Each screening is facilitated by Cameroonian Red Cross volunteers—many of whom were recently trained in communication, community engagement and feedback collection. Listening to people’s questions, concerns, thoughts and fears helps volunteers to understand communities’ needs better, and tailor their work accordingly. Marlyse, a 15-year-old student in the southern city of Kribi who attended a recent screening, said: “This is the first time I have taken part in this type of activity and I have learned a lot. We watched a video on COVID-19 and this reinforced our knowledge on preventive measures. Also the talk with the people from the Red Cross helped us to know more about the vaccine.” Marlyse Mobile Cinema attendee in Kribi You can watch the video Marlyse refers to below (in French): At the IFRC, we know that epidemics begin and end in communities. And that with the right information and support, everyone can play an important role in detecting diseases, responding effectively, and preparing for future health risks. Take Mr Biyong, for example, a community leader in Kribi who is excited about the Cameroonian Red Cross project and the potential of mobile cinema: "We are currently experiencing a cholera epidemic in our community and in the whole region. I think this tool is very timely! Through the broadcasting of the video on cholera, the modes of transmission and how to prevent this disease, my community members were able to see with their own eyes what we try to explain to them every day. This is really a tool that will help stop the spread of the disease.” Mr Biyong Kribi Community Leader Together, the IFRC and Cameroonian Red Cross hope to expand mobile cinema screenings across the country in the coming months, listening to and learning from the people we support as we go. “In addition to things like food, water and shelter, we know that information is, in itself, aid. The IFRC is working hard to help National Societies like the Cameroonian Red Cross take ownership of the opportunities and benefits of this exciting mobile cinema approach to making communities more resilient,” ​​​​​​ Thierry Balloy IFRC Head of Country Cluster Delegation for Central Africa -- This work in Cameroon is part of the IFRC’s multi-country Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Programme (CP3), funded by USAID. Click here to learn more about the project and our work in this area. And if you enjoyed this story, you may also be interested in our new case studies showing how Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have helped prepare communities for, and protect them from, COVID-19.

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Drug disorders

The IFRC network provides strong advocacy, prevention, treatment and care services for people who use drugs. Our aim is to help National Societies better support people with drug disorders, with a focus on harm reduction and tackling stigma and social exclusion.

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| Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent reaching 1.5 million people on the move in MENA, yet millions are left without support

Beirut, 16 December 2021 – Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Middle East and North Africa, yet the number of people on the move left without essential support is colossal, a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has found. Ahead of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the IFRC is calling for a stronger commitment to support people on the move during their journey, not only once they have managed to reach their planned destination – if they ever do. Fabrizio Anzolini, Migration Regional Advisor for IFRC MENA, said: “Countless migrants face inhumane conditions along their way, including violence, lack of food, shelter and access to health services. Climate change and conflicts are only expected to accelerate the number of people migrating out of the region in the coming months and years. We need to act right now on the routes and advocating for durable solutions.” The region, with more than 40 million migrants and 14 million internally displaced people, has some of the world’s longest protracted conflicts, combined with frequent natural disasters, man-made crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regional hotspots include the population movement from Afghanistan to Iran, the migration flows from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya to Europe, the extensive number of internally displaced persons in Syria, as well as the route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Rania Ahmed, IFRC MENA Deputy Regional Director, said: “Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are reaching more than 1.5 million migrants and displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa, but it is not enough. We need bigger investment and greater long-term commitment to address their plight. We need to mobilize all efforts and resources to ensure people on the move receive humanitarian assistance and protection. Migrants and displaced populations are intensely vulnerable and must be included in COVID-19 prevention, response, and recovery plans. We urge governments to ensure that people on the move have equal access to vaccinations, health care and basic services.” With the engagement of the IFRC, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the MENA region are on the frontline attempting to cover the enormous gap between people’s needs and the support that is available for them. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provide multidisciplinary assistance, including health services, livelihood support, protection for children and victims of violence, mental health, and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance. These support services are also widely available to host communities, leaving no one behind. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies remain committed to continue responding to the needs of migrants and displaced people as well as advocating for the support that they need at country, regional and global levels through evidence-based humanitarian diplomacy. However, their continued activities are hampered by shrinking funding. In addition, access to migrants is often limited, especially in conflict zones and due to restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access the full report here: MENA Red Cross and Red Crescent Activities on Migration and Displacement – Snapshot 2021. The survey includes responses from twelve Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Middle East and North Africa. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Geneva: Rana Sidani Cassou, +41 766715751 / +33 675945515, [email protected] In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, +961 70372812 / +358 504667831, [email protected]

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Community focus for global health risks

Community-level health volunteers and activities are vital to addressing the most pressing global health risks. Governments and international partners must provide greater funding and recognition for the role of community level health volunteers and interventions.

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Care in Communities

The IFRC and our member National Societies are training community-based health workers and volunteers to deliveressential community healthservices. In doing so, we’re addressing the global shortage of health care workers and contributing to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and universal health coverage (UHC) agenda.

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Community health

Everyone, everywhere has the right to good health. Within their communities, our millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are working hard to promote good health, prevent disease, and reduce suffering.

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| Press release

IFRC warns only way to win race against variants is to boost vaccinations and protection measures

Geneva, 16 July 2021–The InternationalFederation ofRed CrossandRedCrescent Societies (IFRC)warnsthatthe global vaccination rate must increaserapidlyand protection measures upheld,if we are to win the race againstmoretransmissible, and potentially more deadly,variants. At least three quarters of people in most countries want to be vaccinated worldwide, in the face of emerging new variants, according to new survey data.1However, despite lofty rhetoric about global solidarity,there is a deadly gap in the global plan to equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines.Only around a quarter of the world’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine.This number drops dramatically in low-income countries, whereonly 1% of people have received one dose.2And some countries are yet tostart mass vaccination campaigns. JaganChapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC, said: “To world leaders we say, it is time to pull out all the stops to boost vaccine production. This includes atemporary waiver on intellectualproperty, as well asthesharing of knowledge and technologybetweencountries.Vaccine equity is key to reducing the likelihood of variants and saving lives by limiting the spread of the virus. This is the only way we can truly end this pandemic. “The IFRC is already playing its part to get vaccines into the arms of the most vulnerable, but in some countries, vaccination campaigns have hardly started. Our data shows that people want to be vaccinated, but production and vaccine dose sharing needs to happen much faster if we want vaccination to outpace the variants.” The global number of new cases reported last week (5-11 July 2021) was nearlythreemillion, a 10% increase as compared to the previous week3.This comes asthemore transmissible Delta variant has been identified as the dominant variant in several countries across the globe, many of which have been hard hit in the latestpeaks.* As cases continue to rise in several parts of the world, the IFRC sends a strong reminder that, in the short term,the best methods ofcurbing transmissionsremain the same as they have been since the outset, even as restrictions ease in several countries. Emanuele Capobianco, IFRC Director of Health and Care, who has led theorganization’sglobalhealth responsesince the start of the pandemic, said: “We are facing adéjá-vu situation.Unless action is taken to curbtransmissionand boost equitable vaccine distribution,werisk going back to square one.This virus has not taken a break, and neither should we. As global solutions are sought, we urgently remind that we are all part of the solution. Get a vaccine, if you have access to one, continue to wear your mask, keep physical distance, and meet outdoors or in well ventilated spaces. “The uncontrolled circulation of the virus will significantly increase the risk of emergence of new and more aggressive variants. This is a deadly risk for everyone in the world, including people already vaccinated. The only way to reduce this risk is tomaintainpublic health measures and increase vaccination coverage everywhere in the world.” The IFRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are already on the ground,facilitating the deliveryof vaccinesto overlooked and vulnerable communities around the globe.They relentlessly continueto treat, care for, and support hundreds of millions of people, as they have done since the start of this crisis. The Colombian Red Crosshas supported the vaccination of highly vulnerable and indigenous populations in the Amazon, whileChilean Red Cross is supporting the vaccination of migrants. The Red Cross Society of Seychelles has supported the vaccination of 83% of the country’s vaccinated population,while the Comoros Red Crescent is helping to identify and support the most vulnerable, elderly people, who want to be vaccinated. ThePakistan Red Crescent operates the only non-government facility designated as a Mass Vaccination Centreand in Bangladesh, theBangladesh Red Crescent Society has supported the vaccination of over 50%of the country’s vaccinated population. The Italian Red Cross is runningmultiplevaccination centresinthe country,andthe French Red Cross has supported theimmunisation ofaround 1.5million peopleso far, including through mobile teams thatvaccinate vulnerablepeople athome. The Lebanese Red Cross runs Lebanon’s largest vaccination centre,with thecapacity to vaccinate up to 5,000 people per dayandtheTunisian Red Crescent has supported the reception and care of more than 80,000 people receiving their vaccination. MrChapagainemphasized thatthough these are some of the hardest days the world has ever faced, we areallin this together: “We have seen how all parts of society have come together to protect each other during this crisis. We must not give up on this now. Millions of Red CrossandRed Crescent volunteers have stood side by side with their communities toprovidelifesaving supportandequitableaccess to a vaccine. We have been there since thebeginning,andwewill continue to be for as long as we are needed.” The IFRC will host a live Q&A with Emanuele Capobianco, IFRC Director of Health and Care onTwitter at 15:00 Geneva time. Notes to editors *In Tunisia more than 7,500 casesare being reporteddaily,almostfourtimes higher than a month ago. A significant increase in cases has also been reported in Libya, Iran and Iraq, a trend that the IFRC is concerned could spark a domino effectin the region. Indonesia is the newepicentrein Asia, with 54,517 recorded cases, which is a 565% increase. Across Europe,caseshave been steadily increasing over the past month, with sharp rises reported in the last two weeks(30% and 20%, respectively) including new variants.Worrying spikes of cases and deaths have been reported in many countries, but the situation is particularly concerning in Eastern Europe, SouthCaucasusand Central Asia as health systems in those areas are often fragile and most of the people haven’t yet been vaccinated. Africa has recorded a 43% week-on-week rise in COVID-19 deaths.Southern Africaisreporting concerning numbers of new cases with health systems stretched to capacity and decreased oxygen supply.The majority ofnew cases are nowsequenced as the Delta variant. All countries of major concern have reported less than 5% of their population receiving at least one vaccine dose. TheAmericas region continues to report the highest incidence of cases and deaths globally, with Cuba and Colombia reporting the highest relative number of new cases in the last week. [1] The RCCE Collective Service is an initiative led by IFRC, GOARN, UNICEF and WHO https://www.rcce-collective.net/resource/data-synthesis-public-perceptions-of-the-covid-19-vaccinations-june-2021/ [1] https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations [1] COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update - WHO For more informationor to arrange an interview, contact: In Geneva: AnnVaessen, +41 79 405 77 50,[email protected] Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67,[email protected] About IFRC TheIFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. www.ifrc.org - Facebook - Twitter - YouTube

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4 months since the Beirut explosion: Lebanese Red Cross Secretary-General explains the situation now

On the 4th of August, a massive explosion occurred in the port area of Beirut, capital of Lebanon, injuring more than 6500 people and affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands. Four months later, a lot has been done but the work is far from finished. Secretary-General of the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC), Georges Kettaneh, what are the needs of the affected people four months after the explosions? People need three things: cash, health services and reconstruction of their houses. We are supporting with the minor repairs and providing cash assistance to the families assessed to be in the most vulnerable situation. We continue the lead in the ambulance services and blood transfusions. We are active in primary health care services, providing mental health support, restoring family links and dead body management. We are also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways. How was the situation when the explosion happened on the 4th of August? We had, and still have, an emergency contingency plan to manage unset emergencies. But the Beirut Port explosion was something we had not prepared for or even imagined in our wildest risk assessment exercises. We acknowledge that the humanitarian needs were too big for us to manage completely. In 2 minutes, the blast caused devastation beyond imagination. People lost their lives, homes, loved ones. When we went to the streets to assess the needs, we found bodies of people laying on the ground. We started our needs assessment as soon as possible to have the data that helped us to set priorities. Many people left their houses that were destroyed so we could not reach them. Now, they are coming back to us asking to be included. We had to evacuate people affected by COVID-19 and other patients from the destroyed hospitals to the ones that remained functional, either in Beirut or outside the capital. How is the mental health of the Lebanese Red Cross staff and volunteers? We Lebanese often like to project a positive image about ourselves pretending that we are doing fine. But in reality, we have been shaken to the bones. Our volunteers and staff need psychological support as all Lebanese people do. Personally, I went through many challenging situations throughout my 20-year career as a humanitarian. During the war in Lebanon, I evacuated 21 bodies in 1986 in an explosion in Northern Beirut. I was kidnapped many times. I was under fire from snipers several times. All of this affected me for sure. But the Beirut explosion has been by far the most difficult thing to witness. When the blast took place, people called me on my mobile screaming that they were injured pleading me to evacuate them. We mobilized all the ambulances and volunteers we could, even the retired ones. Some of the ambulances were not able to reach people because the roads were blocked by the rubble. Paramedics were hearing injured screaming under the rubble of their houses but they were not able to reach them. As a humanitarian, this is your scariest nightmare.This affected me a lot. Some of my acquaintances and friends died. We all need mental health support in this situation, and the Lebanese Red Cross is doing as much as possible to provide it to everyone willing to receive it. What have you learned from the explosion and the response operation? The explosions were a force majeure. We were not prepared for such a thing. We didn’t envisage an explosion in the port. We were fully stretched by the COVID-19 as well as in providing first-aid, COVID-19 awareness and responding otherwise to the demonstrations in various parts of the country. No matter how overwhelmed we might be, we should always be prepared for the worse. Another learning we got when we started to distribute relief item boxes. At first, we had 400 boxes but only 100 people showed up at the collection points. The community members that were affected by the blast, did not come to the street to receive the relief items they urgently needed. Culturally, coming to the public for the aid was hard for them. We realized we need to adjust our approach to fit the sensitivities of the community. We decided to distribute the relief items from door-to-door even if it meant more work for us. Then, people were very happy to receive the aid as their dignity was intact. Does the Lebanese Red Cross have enough resources to help the people in need? We have gotten enough donations to provide cash assistance for 10,000 families. We are providing 300 US dollars per month to the most vulnerable affected families to cover their basic needs. You can read more about the cash assistance on the Lebanese Red Cross website. The demand would go beyond the 10,000 families but we don’t have resources for more. We are thankful for all the donations and support we have received from IFRC, ICRC and Partnering National Societies as well as other partners. We have worked together as one in the response to the explosion. From the Lebanese diaspora and companies, we have received more than 20 million USD as they regarded us as a neutral and trusted organization. What comes to the economic crisis in Lebanon, we don’t have enough for responding to that in long term. For example, we need to provide livelihood support and shelter for the people, including the Syrian refugees. In this situation, being transparent and accountable is crucial. Therefore, we have hired an international audit company to monitor our performance and to be as transparent as possible. Key figures 3,741 Individuals treated & transported by ambulance 14,499 individuals received primary health support 13,895 blood units distributed to hospitals 22,001 households with 110,005 individuals received food parcels & hygiene kits 49,127 door-to-door household assessments completed 6,019 individuals affected by COVID-19 transported 16,437 individuals received psycho-social support 9,744 vulnerable families received cash assistance Appeal Update The Lebanese Red Cross launched an appeal for 19 million USD to continue providing emergency medical services and relief operations during the first three months. IFRC, in support of LRC plan, has appealed for 20 million Swiss francs (21.8 million US dollars) to scale up health, shelter and livelihood support over the coming 24 months. Read more on the Lebanon Red Cross website. Media contacts: In Beirut: Rana Sidani Cassou, +961 71802779, [email protected]

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A pandemic reminds us why health care professionals are so valuable

Each nurse and midwife who joined the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has a different story, but they share a common passion: to care for those in need. “I have a big heart that prompts me to engage in humanitarian work in all sectors, whether in times of peace, war, or natural disasters,” said Etidal Abdo Nasser Al-Qabati, a Yemeni nurse and midwife who has specialized in practical nursing and midwifery for three years and studied for four years to become a paramedic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” in honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. This year, according to WHO, the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. ‘’I started to volunteer for humanitarian work, with the Yemeni Red Crescent, in 1973, and fell in love with nursing and helping others,’’ said Etidal, who is known as ‘Mama Etidal.’ “My biggest pain is knowing that we can conduct rescue missions but lack the necessary resources.” Etidal started as a @YemenCrescent volunteer, now she is a professional nurse and midwife: “My long experience and big heart prompt me to humanitarian work.” She is the one who protects the dignity of mothers and women during the most difficult times. #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/5pnQXElVtf — IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 6, 2020 Lebanese midwife Pascale Rizk, joined the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2017 and chose this profession ‘’because it is amongst the most noble professions in the world”. ‘’The relationship that the certified midwife builds with the couple is outstandingly beautiful. Indeed, she witnesses the couple’s greatest moment of joy. And the most sacred event of their lifetime, i.e. the arrival of their newborn.’’ According to Pascale, midwifery and nursing are misperceived by society. ‘’Honestly, when people used to ask me what I did for a living, I would answer by saying ‘a certified midwife,’ and the first response that I would get was: ‘Oh, so you’re a doula?’ People don’t realize that certified midwives are one of the pillars of the medical sector. ‘’ Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services and are often the first and only points of care in their communities. Nurses in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have long been at the frontlines, in war, natural disasters and in combating major diseases like Ebola, SARS, coronaviruses and lately COVID-19, often putting their lives at risk. "The core of our work is saving other people's lives," says Pascale, a #midwife at @ICRC_lb.#Midwives reduce suffering and protect the dignity of mothers and women during the most difficult times: war, disasters and disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.#YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/DH7Gelr6FC — IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 8, 2020 Muhsin Ghalib, an Iraqi Red Crescent nursing officer, has chosen the nursing profession because it is a vocation that helps preserve human rights. Ghalib narrates an unforgettable experience where he witnessed the death of a young man who was helping his father at the hospital. “I can never forget this experience, because the father was the one who was sick, but ended up staying alive. Whereas his son, who was perfectly healthy, passed away just like that.’’ Today, health care workers need #solidarity, not #stigma. Thank them and show them your support every day. By doing this, you help yourself and others to stay safe. Think what would happen if we don’t have enough #nurses and #midwives#YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife @iraqircs pic.twitter.com/EDsgGKU364 — IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 5, 2020 It is pivotal to create and respect a humanitarian space in order to allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and health workers to care for people in need and alleviate human suffering among the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach communities. Health workers who dedicate themselves to saving lives deserve society’s respect. They must not be prevented from reaching those in need. Nurses and midwives have devoted their lives to saving and caring for others. In return, we should protect, respect, recognize and give thanks nurses, midwives and all health workers at all times. Elias from @YemenCrescent was granted a #FlorenceNightingale medal – the highest award one can get in #HealthCareSector.#Midwives and #nurses are needed today more than ever before, and they must be appreciated by everyone. Thank you for what you do! #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife pic.twitter.com/jUHiflcwj7 — IFRC Middle East and North Africa (@IFRC_MENA) November 4, 2020

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