Elina Resepwil and Martha Asher share something in common. They are the first national UN Youth Volunteers with the Country Liaison Office in Northern Micronesia of the World Health Organization (WHO). The office just started hosting UN Volunteers this year. Elina and Martha leverage community engagement to increase vaccination against measles-mumps-rubella in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Elina's assignment was financed from UNV's Special Voluntary Fund.
Elina and Martha were part of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) group that supported the coast-to coast immunization campaign rolled out from November 2022 until March 2023. They contributed to social mobilization and risk communication activities. The two volunteers also coordinated meetings with RCCE members from all four states of Micronesia: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae.
The number of children who received MMR vaccines rose to 2,817, compared to 589 children aged 1 to 3 years vaccinated before the integrated campaign.
Children aged 2 to 59 months also received other routine vaccinations, including Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTAP), Inactivated poliovirus (IPV), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Hepatitis B (HepB), Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), COVID-19 and the flu.
As a Community Health Engagement Officer, Elina’s assignment makes her more aware of the health issues her country is encountering and potential solutions. "Being one of the first national UN Volunteers in the Federated States of Micronesia is something I take pride in. I am glad to be part of the team which secured a higher uptake of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine."
One of WHO’s targets is capacity building of human resources for health in our Member States. Through the UN Volunteer assignments, I am happy that WHO is able to provide an opportunity for young Micronesian nationals to contribute to their own communities and step up in their careers at the same time. --Dr Momoe Takeuchi, Country Liaison Officer, WHO Office for Northern Micronesia and Elina’s supervisor
Elina wants fellow youth to challenge themselves and strive for a better and healthier future for their country.
This is a great opportunity for me to learn more about my homeland and to contribute to its development. I believe that volunteering inspires the younger generation to take part in making positive changes in people’s lives. --Elina Resepwil, UN Youth Volunteer Community Health Engagement Officer with WHO
For Elina, being one of the first national UN Youth Volunteers in Micronesia – while challenging – is exciting at the same time. "Since I grew up here, I knew this would be a challenging task, because of the beliefs and culture associated with young people in my homeland."
She hopes that other UN organizations will give Micronesian youth like her a chance to provide fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to propel their country’s development trajectory, allowing them to become the leaders of the next generation.