Egypt: Youth Mobilize to Support Egypt's Front-Line Health Workers

Cairo — "Every morning we meet with the intention of packing as many kits as we can, to be delivered to the health workers who are working hard to protect us," 22-year-old Ammar told UNFPA.

Ammar is a volunteer with Y-PEER, UNFPA's youth leadership network, which mobilized dozens of young people to assemble hygiene and dignity kits for distribution to health workers working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.

Egypt has had more than 59,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The crisis has taken a significant toll on health systems, and on health workers. Women health workers are particularly likely to be affected; some 42 per cent of the country's doctors and 91 per cent of nurses are women.

UNFPA has been working to provide these health workers with hygiene supplies they need while working long hours under extraordinarily stressful conditions, including sanitary pads, hand soap, disinfectants, toilet paper/tissues, tooth paste and tooth brushes.

Within just 10 days, Y-PEER volunteers in Cairo had packed 11,000 hygiene and dignity kits.

A well-oiled machine

"As soon as we arrived at UNFPA's premises, we make sure we sanitize and put on our protective gear to start packing," Ammar said. "We worked together as a well-oiled machine, and we all helped each other."

UNFPA has mobilized private sector partnerships to create and distribute around 30,000 hygiene and dignity kits for front-line health workers, refugees, and women and girls facing challenges meeting their hygiene needs. Partners - including Luna Perfumes and Cosmetics and Consolidated Casuals, Procter and Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and Zeina Group - provided hygiene supplies collectively valued at $198,000.

"In less than 48 hours, the UNFPA team was able to mobilize enough partnerships to fill an entire kit," said Dr. Aleksandar Bodiroza, UNFPA's representative in Egypt.

UNFPA is coordinating with the Ministry of Health and Population to deliver these kits to front-line health workers - both women and men.

Kits will also be distributed to women and girls undergoing quarantine and treatment, those in locked-down areas, those in areas with disrupted water and sanitation facilities, those confined in facilities such as orphanages and prisons, and to refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants.

Supplies and information

The kits also contain information on preventive measures that can protect individuals from COVID-19, including handwashing and social distancing. The information leaflets also address stigma and menstrual hygiene.

"We were all so passionate about packing the entire quantity so they can reach those who need them as soon as possible," said Salma Mahmoud, a 23-year-old Y-PEER volunteer who helped put the kits together.

The first batch of kits has already been delivered to Abasseya, Imbaba, Helwan, Mansoura, Zagazig and Banha fever hospitals.

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