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Save the Children Philippines supply distribution
A child shows their family’s one month supply of hygiene essentials (i.e. soap and alcohol) distributed by Save the Children Philippines on April 3, 2020 in Navotas. (Photo by Lei Tapang/Save the Children)

Save the Children launches its biggest ever appeal to protect children from COVID-19

Press Release
April 7, 2020

MANILA – Save the Children has launched a global appeal to raise US$100 Million to manage the spread of COVID-19 and support survival through food security among the most vulnerable families across 120 countries, including the Philippines.

The biggest appeal since the 1918-1920 Spanish Flu pandemic, Save the Children believes that “early action is critical because a delay will cost lives, and rob children of opportunities.”

Tagged as #ProtectAGeneration, the appeal coincides with the World Health Day celebration on April 7, where the roles of nurses and midwives are recognized to keep the world healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines says that the COVID-19 pandemic spares no one – both rich and poor, young and old, but those who have the least in life, and not able to cope will be hit first and hardest, including the vulnerable and deprived children and their families.

“Children suffer the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Atty. Muyot. The rising deaths of adults leave children without parents, and guardians, while the loss of income for families is causing widespread hunger and poverty.

The 100-years of Save the Children’s expertise in providing a humanitarian response to a pandemic dates back to the Spanish flu in 1918.

“We need to go back and remember at how we started as a humanitarian organization,” said Muyot. “We need to be where we are most needed by children and their families.”

In the Philippines, the funds will be used to support the most vulnerable children and their families with hygiene essentials to ward off diseases, cash assistance to help them recover from the unintended impact of the enhanced community quarantine, and educate families about the importance of physical distancing, proper hygiene and other behaviors needed to prevent and reduce transmission of the deadly virus.

Over half a million community health workers are currently providing support in 44 countries, including the Philippines. Save the Children Philippines support community health workers who attend to the health and nutrition needs of the most deprived children and families in Southern Mindanao, communities in Samar province, and in the cities of Navotas, Caloocan, and Malabon in Metro Manila.

Atty. Muyot also said the funds will support education personnel and government health agencies to equip local health workers with the required personal protective equipment and medical supplies, training, and mental health and psychosocial support.

He also raised concern that more children now experience hunger, poor health, and malnutrition as thousands of families face a loss of income, including those in the informal sector due to limited mobility during Enhanced Community Quarantine. “School closures also pose risks on children who will be forced to work to earn a living for their families while adolescent girls may end up in early marriage,” said Atty. Muyot.

Dr. Amado Parawan, Health and Nutrition Advisor of Save the Children Philippines said the loss of jobs and stable income of parents, guardians during quarantine is expected to increase the cases of malnutrition in the country.

He said families must ensure they have at least five (5) servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and drink 8-10 glasses of water to boost their immune system. Parents and guardians were also advised to serve healthy meals to children instead of junk foods.

Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s child malnutrition rate is one of the highest in the world, with one in three children under 5 years of age is stunted due to prolonged hunger resulting in chronic malnutrition.

At the same time, at least 48.2 per cent of babies six to 11 months have anemia due to poor feeding practices and inadequate food, according to the 2018 Expanded National Nutrition Survey by the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).

“The loss of income to thousands of families immediately translates into not being able to put food on the table,” said Dr. Parawan.

He said vulnerable families need financial support to afford nutritious diets – particularly for pregnant and lactating mothers and children up to the age of two.

Save the Children’s #ProtectAGeneration global appeal aims to provide financial support to families in crisis through cash and voucher assistance in over 30 countries around the world.

Atty. Muyot said the funds will also support distance learning and interactive learning activities for millions of children missing out on school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will provide guidance and resources to help parents and caregivers to support children’s learning,” he said, adding that “the key to our support will be how to maintain structure and routine, and how to keep children engaged in play and learning activities at home.”

Save the Children Philippines has developed mobile apps like i-Mulat that is downloadable in the Google Play Store, to give parents a wealth of suggested family learning activities for children 0 to 6 years old that they can do at home.

The i-Mulat app contains key messages and videos on how parents can support their children to achieve their developmental milestones. Parents can also log the activities they do with their children as well as observations on their child’s development in the app.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis that goes beyond health systems, said Atty. Muyot.

“Economic recession and the socio-economic disruption accompanying lockdowns have already inflicted immense human suffering even in high-income countries with strong safety nets. The risks now facing vulnerable populations in poorer countries with high levels of poverty and weak safety nets are even more serious and much greater,” he said.

Atty. Muyot is appealing to individuals and businesses to support #ProtectAGeneration through donations on https://donate.savethechildren.org.ph/campaign/covid-19#donatearea or by calling: Candice dela Cruz at 0929-754-3066 or supportercare.ph@savethechildren.org

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