YOUNG LEADERS – As the world grapples with the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, young leaders are demonstrating their continued leadership in their respective communities. According to a new United Nations plan to tackle COVID-19, young people are among the hardest hit by the pandemic’s socio-economic impacts. However, young people are also among the most active in global responses: not only are they at the forefront as health workers, but they also promote health and safety in their roles as researchers, activists, innovators, and communicators. As such, decision-makers must commit to ensuring that young people’s voices are part of the solutions for healthier, safer, and gender equality.
1. PROVIDING ESSENTIAL REPRODUCTIVE AND COMPANION HEALTH SERVICES
As many countries enter some form of lockdown, women worldwide have problems accessing safe abortions and contraception. To make sure people are always able to take care of their sexual and reproductive health, Lina López and her organization, safe2choose, offer support via email, website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. “In these uncertain times, we remain committed to providing information and advice on safe abortion to women and girls from their homes,” Lina said. “Talk to us; we are here to support you.”
In Israel, social welfare worker Or Ram and in the UK, Gbemisola Osadua, a volunteer NHS worker, offers telephone support to those who experience loneliness when they are isolated. It also advises girls with unwanted pregnancies, emphasizing the horizontal work of social workers during this quarantine and other protective measures.
2. USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND APPLICATIONS TO DELAY ACCURATE INFORMATION
According to Benin physician Hashim Hounkpatin, there are currently two diseases spreading virally around the world: COVID-19 and fake news. The vaccine for both? “Good information.” Hashim, who launched a massive literacy program called Arayaa in French-speaking Africa, teamed up with a consortium of health-related content producers to stage a tweet chat on protecting yourself from COVID-19. Their hashtag # AgirContreCOVID19 has reached over 90,000 participants to date. Also, they design an app that displays familiar knowledge in local languages and allows users to contact experts directly for assistance.
3. TAKE EFFECTIVE AND FAIR CARE
In addition to treating patients, young doctors respond by ringing the alarm bell about limited resources and demanding more health investment. Sujitha Selvarajah, from the UK’sUK’s National Health Service (NHS), stresses the need for personal protective equipment (PPE), increased testing capacity, and protection of the most vulnerable populations of remote communities. “This pandemic exposes the inequalities that exist in society,” Sujitha said. “Protecting the most vulnerable must be a priority at all times, not just during a pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Georgia’sGeorgia’s Gvantsa Khizanishvili is focused on access to quality and fair care for cancer patients during the pandemic. As C / Can’sCan’s Tbilisi City Manager, Gvantsa calls on oncologists worldwide to share information and data about the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients. Since cancer patients are at higher risk for complications from the virus, she believes that “it is critical to provide the most accurate information, resources, and support to people with cancer, to cancer survivors. , their families, and caregivers.
4. CHAMPIONING MENTAL WELLNESS
Protecting everyone from pandemic also means protecting people’s mental health. In Poland, doctor and psychiatrist Anna Szczegielniak draws attention to how social isolation puts additional stress on individuals, especially those who are homeless, do not have an internet connection or have no support from their families. According to Anna, the country’s doctors are organizing social media groups for people in crisis and emphasizing the community’s value. “Only united can we defeat this pandemic,” said Anna.
5. INNOVATE TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO RESCUE TESTS
Extensive testing is an essential part of saving lives in a pandemic. To strengthen their city’s coronavirus protection, Helena Likaj developed and deployed a drive-thru test center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Every afternoon of the week and while supplies last, their facility offers free COVID-19 tests to people traveling by car and bicycle.
6. RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
Research is another essential aspect of the fight against the coronavirus. Hamza Meghari of Palestine, a clinical care research assistant currently based in the UK, is partnering with the World Health Organization to conduct a study on the clinical and epidemiological features of COVID-19. This research would allow a better understanding of the disease and better manage its symptoms and spread. While things may be uncertain now, “we should all believe in the power of scientific research,” Hamza said.
7. USING THE POWER OF COMMUNICATION
Jama Jack is the communications chief of the Council’sCouncil’s Medical Research Unit for the only COVID-19 testing center in The Gambia. One of the local challenges is the lack of information, so she has created posters and videos that breakthrough myths about the coronavirus and has published the material in several Gambian languages. “Solidarity offers the opportunity to share correct information, and this can help reduce the risk of panic,” said Jama.
Likewise, writer, producer, and presenter Robert Mukondiwa provide daily updates to Zimbabweans (and the rest of the world) on his country’s efforts to fight COVID-19. Through informational programming at Zimpapers TV Network, Robert influences others to participate in functional behavioral changes such as social distancing and self-isolation.
8. PROVIDE FOOD AND SANITATION
When the essentials are in short supply, young activists strive to meet the needs of their communities. Muhammad Ferdaus, the founder of Community Development for Peace (CDP), works through his organization to distribute dry food and sanitary kits to everyday workers – such as street vendors and rickshaw tractors – in Bangladesh. As the Dhaka closure made it incredibly difficult to maintain health and safety, especially tricky in the Korail slum, Muhammad provides these residents with hygiene supplies and training them on how to keep the surrounding environment clean.
Social activist Krishna Maheshwari also offers free meals to families in Pakistan. His self-initiated service gives priority to single women and widows.
9. ENGAGING ELECTED OFFICIALS AND LEGISLATORS
As a lawyer, Bernarda Ordóñez Moscoso has used her role as a legal advisor to Ecuador’sEcuador’s National Assembly to secure funding for the COVID-19 response. After Bernarda urged political parties to donate the money they had set aside for the election campaign, Ecuador’s president announced that the government would channel those reserves into the fight against the pandemic. Violence against girls and women often increases in times of crisis. In response, Bernarda is also participating in implementing a protocol to ensure the safety of girls and women during the emergency call.
10. MAKE SURE THE MOST VULNERABLE
Several reports indicate that people in humanitarian situations, especially groups displaced and living in camps, can experience the worst effects of COVID-19. Young people like Muzna Dureid are raising their voices to ensure these populations don’t lag in the crisis. As a Liason Officer at White Helmets, a volunteer organization that has garnered international attention for rescuing civilians injured during the Syrian civil war, Muzna advocates for a “global effort of expertise, technology, d’ d’ money and materials to save lives everywhere, including in Syria. “, where overcrowded refugee camps make girls and women particularly vulnerable to disease. “The ceasefire is the only way to deliver medical products,” Muzna said.