WHO and UNICEF sign 10-year partnership to promote mental health of children and adolescents Updated for 2021

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Updated: March 4, 2021

 A new partnership between WHO and UNICEF is calling for key actions in universal health coverage, mental health, emergencies and nutrition

The 10-year strategic collaboration framework builds on a robust 70-year collaboration between the two organizations, and prioritizes four strategic areas for immediate attention and action at all levels of the organizations: universal health coverage, through a primary health care and health systems approach; mental health and psychosocial well-being and development; public health emergencies; and maternal and child nutrition.

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Additionally, the two organizations signed a new Joint Program on Mental Health and psychosocial well-being and development of children and adolescents. 

This 10-year collaborative effort will promote mental health and psychosocial well-being and development, increase access to care for mental health conditions, and reduce suffering and enhance quality of life among children and adolescents, and their caregivers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed huge gaps in accessing health, well-being and nutrition services among children and vulnerable populations,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “There has never been a more urgent need to work together. This new framework will help us strengthen health and food systems, and invest in mental health and psychosocial support in every country in the world.” 

Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), New York, speaking during the Empowering Responsible Artificial Intelligence session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 21 January. Congress Centre - The Lab. Copyright by World Economic Forum/Ciaran McCrickard
Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), New York, speaking during the Empowering Responsible Artificial Intelligence session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 21 January. Congress Centre – The Lab. Copyright by World Economic Forum/Ciaran McCrickard

For more than 70 years, WHO and UNICEF have worked together worldwide to ensure children survive and thrive, and benefit from a safe and clean environment. The two organizations collaborated to provide high-impact health, immunization, nutrition, HIV and early child development interventions, as well as safe water and sanitation services in every region of the world, including in fragile and conflict settings.

“At the heart of our work with UNICEF is seeing that every child not only survives but ultimately thrives and transforms their communities and future generations,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “With great appreciation and respect for our unique and complementary roles, we stand together in our commitment to achieve health for all. As this pandemic demonstrates, no-one is safe until everyone is safe.”

Seventy-third World Health Assembly, Geneva, Switzerland, 18-19 May 2020. WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the closing session of the 73rd World Health Assembly — 19 May 2020
Seventy-third World Health Assembly, Geneva, Switzerland, 18-19 May 2020.WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the closing session of the 73rd World Health Assembly — 19 May 2020

WHO and UNICEF continue to work together to stop the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that every woman and every child have access to the essential health services they need, including immunizations and health check-ups. 

The two organizations are also working together to support countries to introduce and deliver COVID-19 vaccines under the vaccines pillar of the “Access to COVID-19 Tools – Accelerator” (ACT-A) initiative, along with Gavi, CEPI and global immunization partners.

Additionally, the organizations are strengthening health systems through primary health care, as agreed in the Declaration of Astana, and the UN High-level declaration on UHC, in order to accelerate achievement of universal health coverage and Sustainable Development Goal 3 targets by 2030.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. When it comes to the social reality of (at least for the foreseeable future) the prevalence of mental illness I’m often left frustrated by the contradictory proclamations and conduct coming from one of the seven pillars of our supposedly enlightened culture—the media, or more specifically that of entertainment and news.
    First they’ll state the obvious, that society must open up its collective minds and common dialogue when it comes to far more progressively addressing the real challenge of more fruitfully treating and preventing such illness. After all, its social ramifications exist all around us; indeed, it’s suffered by people of whom we are aware and familiar, and/or even more so to whom so many of us are related to some degree or another.
    Perhaps needless to say, the above-mentioned most commonly occurs when a greatly endeared celebrity passes away or dies an untimely death. This fact was in particular exemplified immediately following the many predictable platitudinous sound bites and mini-memorial commentaries from the late actor/comedian Robin Williams’ contemporaries as well as in many newspaper letters and editorials following his tragic suicide.
    I’ve grown rather weary of such effectively-go-nowhere yet nonetheless bold suggestions (however sincerely charitable they may be) to tackle the stigma of, to put it one way, losing one’s control over his or her brain chemistry. Upon initially being declared that such destructive illness must be regarded with far more effective effort, it’s usually just a matter of some months before that initial clamour for action gradually settles down to near obscurity, at least until the next mental-health-related tragic news story.

  2. “It has been said that if child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty. Or, as Bernie Siegel, MD, puts it, quite simply, after half a century of practising medicine, ‘I have become convinced that our number-one public health problem is our childhood’.” (Childhood Disrupted, pg.228)
    Poverty can be a helpless child’s starting point towards an adolescence and (in particular) adulthood in which its brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of stress hormones, even in non-stressful daily routines?
    Yet society generally treats human procreative rights as though we’ll somehow, in blind anticipation, be innately inclined to sufficiently understand and appropriately nurture our children’s naturally developing minds and needs.
    I strongly believe that a psychologically sound as well as a physically healthy future should be all children’s foremost right—especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter—and therefore basic child development science and rearing should be learned long before the average person has their first child.

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