SDG 3: Good health and well-being
Dirty water and poor sanitation is a major problem in Zambia in southern Africa, where 50 per cent of the population does not have access to sanitation. This has led to recurrent cholera outbreaks in many parts of the country.
In the pursuit of its mandate to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, UNICEF recognizes that youth over 18 years old have proven to be key advocates and change makers. UNICEF has historically engaged modest numbers of youth volunteers in their advocacy and programmatic work. The organization is now looking to strengthen this by engaging youth in a systematic and formalized programme to deliver results for children.
Some 103 UN Volunteers served with UNAIDS in 38 countries over the past 10 years. Supporting the mandate of UNAIDS, they have been working towards stopping new HIV infections, ensuring that everyone living with HIV has access to treatment, protecting and promoting human rights and producing data for decision-making.
During 2017, nearly 250 UN Volunteers worldwide served in assignments that are clearly linked to medical professions. They bolstered the work of 23 UN partner entities, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNAIDS, as well as 13 UN peacekeeping missions. Through their assignments, they contribute significantly to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, which targets achieving healthy lives and wellbeing for all.
UN Volunteer midwives together with local volunteers help reduce preventable deaths and improve maternal and child health in South Sudan. We further our goals through mentoring, training, classroom teaching, and leading by example. We provide gender sensitive reproductive health services that range from care before family planning and pregnancy, antenatal care, labour, delivery, and postnatal care.
Increasing access to basic social services
In East and Southern Africa, the achievement of SDG 3 is particularly crucial. According to WHO, Sub-Saharan Africa “confronts the world’s most dramatic public health crisis”. Mortality among children under 5 years of age remains high, with a rate of 84 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015. The incidence of HIV infection is still highest in sub-Saharan Africa, with 1.5 new infections per 1,000 uninfected people in 2015. In 2016, sub-Saharan Africa was home to 90 per cent of malaria cases and 91 per cent of malaria deaths.
As an international UN Volunteer specialized in communication, Catalin was one of the first people to be sent to Cox’s Bazar to document the response of WHO Bangladesh. “Prior to the escalation of this crisis, there were already established partnerships between WHO, the government and other health partners. With the massive influx of people from Myanmar, strategies had to be adapted to this critical situation,” explains Catalin.
Rose comes from a village in Uganda where many deaths have been attributed to famine. She remembers a particularly difficult time when her community gathered for at least one week to mourn the deceased. The mortality rate had been particularly high due to the outbreak of disease among the new born. The extensive mourning unfortunately had an incendiary effect—interrupted attention to crops and market activities magnified the impact of the famine in her community. In that difficult moment, sorrow had brought on more suffering.
I have had the privilege and pleasure of practicing as a UN Volunteer Medical Doctor in three different countries. My first experience was in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2009) with the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). This was my first opportunity to learn how the work of a UN mission is conducted, attending at the same time several important training sessions. During this assignment, our Level 2 Clinic treated many cases of malaria and other medical problems.