In celebration of World Health Day, we share the stories of five of our UN Volunteers. These volunteers are working on raising public awareness on health risks and issues, informing on preventive measures, and supporting ongoing health service delivery in order to build a healthier and fairer world. Their assignments are financed from UNV's Special Voluntary Fund* (SVF).
It's been more than a year since the COVID-19 outbreak started. Although there have been countless challenges, which were hard to resolve, we are enduring these testing times well together. Among those who have been tirelessly fighting COVID-19 – either on the frontlines or by wearing masks or staying at home – we would like to recognize and honour our UN Volunteers' tremendous efforts to address the challenges of the pandemic.
In Ukraine, Alexandra Malukalo, a national UN Volunteer with the UN Resident Coordinator Office (UNRCO), is working to support inter-agency coordination efforts related to the COVID-19 response. Liaising with about 30 entities throughout the country, Alexandra supports the COVID-19 response country team in coordination, communication and monitoring. Along with this, Alexandra is working to raise awareness among UN staff on COVID-19 prevention, protection and response by supporting the First Line of Defense mechanism and the UN duty of care functions.
Alexandra highlights the power of her work in supporting the global health emergency response.
What is not reported is invisible. I am happy to contribute to COVID-19 response and bring people together, by creating new ideas on technical approaches, monitoring and reporting. --Alexandra Malukalo, UN Volunteer with UNRCO, Ukraine
Now, as part of the local vaccine deployment team, Alexandra is involved in the vaccination process, which recently started in the country. She supports the pre-registration of eligible vaccine recipients.
Two other stories come from Sana Elouazi and Saad Chaibi, national UN Volunteers serving in Morocco. Sana Elouazi, a UN Volunteer Communication Officer with UNDP, is taking responsibility for developing and implementing the country office's communication strategy and promoting UNDP's efforts in responding to the pandemic at a national, regional and international level.
When the country entered into lockdown, UNDP created a digital platform called AKID2030, which aims to promote successful initiatives that contribute to the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and ease its socio-economic impact on the country. Her role was to identify these initiatives and disseminate good practices, as part of the national effort to fight the pandemic.
Sana also helps create a space for hope and positivity, as well as the promotion of good mental health practices. This resulted in assisting Moroccans to become more aware of the importance of not only their physical health, but also their mental health.
Saad Chaibi, a UN Volunteer Public Health Officer serving with the World Health Organization, is producing weekly situation reports on epidemiological surveillance and coordinating financial aid/grants with technical officers. His main tasks include monitoring and analyzing the COVID-19 outbreak in Morocco, implementing grants and liaising with communications colleagues on preparing relevant materials for the health emergency response.
Besides this, Saad is also engaged in the formulation and implementation of the UN COVID1-9 Socio-Economic Response Framework. This includes coordinating strategic studies on the situation in Morocco, such as the role of the media, engagement of private sector in the response and social, economic and health determinants and impacts of COVID-19.
Currently, he is following up on the ongoing vaccination rollout, tracking and reporting on its progress.
My UNV assignment is very fulfilling. It allows me to participate in the work of the UN fully, while also promoting volunteering values. Working for WHO as a young medical doctor is a dream and being able to integrate into this organization in these hard times and strengthen the COVID-19 response is a great responsibility that I've been blessed with. --Saad Chaibi, UN Volunteer Public Health Officer with UNDP, Morocco
In Lao PDR, Susan Sengmanithong supports coordinating within the UN Communication Group as a focal point for the UNRCO. Susan updates information related to COVID-19, and assists WHO in posting information on the UN Lao PDR website and social media. She provides translation into Lao for Government notices or announcements related to COVID-19 in the country. According to Lin Yang, the head of the office at UNRCO in Lao PDR, "The SVF-funded UN Volunteers in UNRCO in Lao PDR have brought remarkable added value to the office."
Onwara Poonsombat, a UN Volunteer serving with the UNRCO communications team in Thailand, is working to uphold the rights of those further left behind. She has been supporting COVID-19 recovery efforts by raising public awareness about leaving no one behind, as we accelerate recovery and sustainable development in the next phase of the health response.
I believe people's collective efforts and the spirit of volunteerism are the key to overcome today's challenges. As a volunteer who helped foster collaboration with various stakeholders, particularly youth, I am very glad to see people joining hands together for a better future, where no one is left behind. --Onwara Poonsombat, UN Volunteer Public Information and Communications Officer with UNRCO, Thailand
Although everything has changed since the outbreak of the pandemic, there is no change in the passion dedicated volunteers bring to their quest for a healthier and safer world. Also, the work of UN Volunteers during this health emergency never ceases, not just addressing the disease itself, but also ensuring no one is left behind in the recovery from the impact of the pandemic. Together we can build a fairer and healthier world.
*UNV's Special Voluntary Fund (SVF) was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1970. Over time, the SVF mandate has been modified and expanded, with the SVF providing seed funding to scale up successful projects where volunteerism has had a transformative impact. The SVF is also used to develop innovative volunteer-based solutions as well as undertake research and knowledge sharing. Read more here.