The worst health crisis of a generation is severely challenging the most advanced economies, with rising number of fatalities. The consequences in poorer countries with fragile health systems could be far more devastating.
Our experience shows girls and young women are particularly hard hit in health emergencies, and they will need our support more than ever as this crisis develops. Although children appear less impacted by COVID-19 than adults, the pandemic will affect the environment in which children grow and develop. The challenges for children, particularly girls, ranging from disruption in education, increased risk of sexual violence and mental health risks, will be much greater in poorer countries.
As a global children’s charity, with more than 80 years’ experience, our aim is to advance children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan International is active in over 75 countries and supports thousands of disadvantaged communities through a network of nearly 10,000 staff.
We are closely monitoring the impact on our operations and place utmost importance on the safety and well-being of our staff and communities.
As things stand, we are pleased to say that we have not received any reports of the children we work with being affected by coronavirus. Our work in communities, where possible, will continue as usual for the meantime. However we are closely following public health guidance issued by national governments and the World Health Organization and responding accordingly.
We are drawing upon our experience of responding in medical emergencies such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We will work to support the most vulnerable children around the world in the best way we can.
Our response will focus on continuing to disseminate public health information and implement effective hygiene practices, including installation of additional hand-washing facilities in the communities we work with, to keep children healthy.
We will work with teachers, parents, health care providers and partners to ensure children get the support they need during this crisis. And we will also intensify support and preventive measures in refugee and displaced camps where the healthcare support is most fragile.
Here in Ireland, we are constantly reviewing our working practices in line with the Government of Ireland guidance to ensure we can protect our staff in Ireland as best we can. Following advice from the Irish government, staff based in our Dublin office are now working from home and we have suspended all non-critical overseas travel. We are striving to ensure that this doesn’t affect the time it takes us to respond to your emails, calls or letters, and will let you know if we anticipate any delays.
We will continue to keep you updated on our work over the next few weeks and months, as we work to provide the most effective support we can for children whose lives will change as a result of this health crisis.
Thank you once again for your support.