Bonn, Germany: Working with UNICEF in Mali, UN Volunteer Chouahibou Nchamoun of Cameroon is focused on reducing the country’s child mortality rate. A public health specialist, he supports UNICEF’s efforts to equip child caregivers with the skills to identify, prevent and treat a range of illnesses that affect children when they are most vulnerable - between birth and five years. As a ‘trainer of trainers’, he visits villages to conduct seminars with those residents selected to train their fellow community members on children’s health. In addition to instructing them on common illnesses, such as diarrhea, fever, and malaria, he also coaches them in effective communication techniques. Once trained, the community facilitators visit on average 35 homes four times a month to give advice and monitor the health of children and mothers.
In Egypt, UNV is supporting a national campaign led by the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood and UNDP to stop the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Working with youth organizations, the UN Volunteers, including victims of FGM, raise awareness on the issue and provoke debate. Starting at the high school level, they work to generate understanding of what the practice of FGM means and the impact it has on women, both physically and emotionally. At universities and youth centres, the UN Volunteers have informal talks on FGM with their peers in an environment that is non-threatening. To reach out to even larger groups, they also organize youth conferences to encourage students to participate in discussions on the medical and religious side of the practice.
By working directly with stakeholders and other partners in the project planning stage, UNV implements initiatives that reflect local conditions and social norms. In combating HIV/AIDS in Kyrgyzstan for example, UNV in partnership with UNDP and UNIFEM works with the media as part of the concerted effort to address the country’s rising rate of HIV-infections. Given the influential role the country’s media have in the public sphere – more than 95 per cent of all Kyrgyz households receive television broadcasts – UN Volunteers are running workshops for print, radio and television journalists aimed at increasing the public’s knowledge and understanding of the epidemic. In the workshops, the latest data on HIV/AIDS is shared and ideas are exchanged on effective reporting techniques, including how to introduce the human side of the epidemic by interviewing members of risk groups and people living with HIV/AIDS.
In southern Africa, UN Volunteers are at the centre of the fight against HIV/AIDS. Home to more than 11 million of the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, the region’s key sectors are paralyzed by the loss of productive lives due to AIDS-related illness. In response, UNDP launched the Southern Africa Capacity Initiative (SACI) in 2004 to help the nine governments in the sub-region reverse the impact of AIDS on the workforce. UN Volunteers with expertise in medical, planning, policy and technical fields work with government ministries, agencies and NGOs to develop leadership capacity, accelerate skills training, and help institutions to continue delivering services. They are also placed at the provincial district and community levels to back the planning and coordination of response mechanisms. An equal number of UN Volunteers are supporting the formation of local volunteer groups to take an active role in carrying out HIV/AIDS education and give assistance to those affected and infected.
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