This is the News in Brief, from the United Nations.
Access to handwashing facilities, key for safe return to schools
Nearly 820 million children worldwide do not have basic handwashing facilities at school, putting them at increased risk of COVID-19 and other transmittable diseases, according to a report published on Thursday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
“Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services is essential for effective infection prevention and control in all settings, including schools", said WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
He said it must be a major focus for governments, during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has created the largest disruption to education ever recorded, affecting nearly 1.6 billion students in more than 190 countries, according to UN data.
The study found that last year, 43 per cent of schools globally lacked access to basic handwashing with soap and water: a key condition for schools to be able to operate safely in the midst of the pandemic.
Of the roughly 818 million children worldwide who lack basic handwashing facilities at school, more than one third are in sub-Saharan Africa.
UNESCO rallies international community to save historic Beirut culture
Following the devastating twin explosions in Beirut last week, UN cultural agency UNESCO, is coordinating a long-term international effort to safeguard the city’s severely damaged cultural heritage and rehabilitate its cultural life.
The explosions at the Lebanese capital’s port not only claimed hundreds of lives, they also inflicted severe damage on some of Beirut’s most historic neighbourhoods, major museums, galleries and religious sites, said the agency on Thursday.
Responding to the Directorate-General of Antiquities of Lebanon’s call for support, UNESCO said it will carry out a technical needs assessment and lead an International Action Plan for Culture in Beirut, which the agency is currently developing with partners.
The Lebanese culture ministry noted that at least 8,000 buildings, many concentrated in old districts, have sustained damage, including some 640 historic buildings, approximately 60 of which are at risk of collapse.
Nearly 3,000 community health workers trained to aid Haiti COVID response
The Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, has trained more than 2,800 new community health workers as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing much-needed support to the Ministry of Health and the country’s Pandemic Management Commission.
In addition, the international agency, run by the UN and Organization of American States, has been meeting with community leaders including voodoo priests, catholic priests, pastors, and traditional midwives to provide them with accurate information to counter the pandemic.
These include protective measures to prevent transmission, treatment centre protocols, and continuity of essential services in healthcare facilities.
The new health worker teams have been given personal protective equipment (PPE) and communication support, such as megaphones and batteries, according to a report from the PAHO office in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
This outreach in Haiti is crucial because it helps involve the hard-to-reach communities and believers in traditional medicine, in taking steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus, says PAHO.
Haiti has 50 investigation teams and 299 contact tracing teams in operation throughout the country, with call centers and data analysis teams active in all areas.
Matt Wells, UN News.