IRNA – A 8-million-euro contribution from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) is allocated to the UN and its partner Relief International in Iran to support the management and control of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable communities with a focus on most at-risk children, adolescents, and young people.
The ECHO fund is allocated to UNDP, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF, and Relief International to support their COVID-19 operations in Iran with UNICEF as the convening agency for this Joint Programme.
UNICEF Iran will spend the ECHO fund to procure COVID-19 lifesaving health and diagnosis equipment for the relevant government entities and enhance WASH and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) standards among schools specially in less developed provinces to ensure their readiness for the reopening. The fund will also be used to mitigate the adverse COVID-19 mental health and psychosocial effects through the production of stigma-free information and communication material as well as exclusive psychosocial counseling tailored to the needs of the at-risk community including children and adolescents. Using the ECHO fund, UNICEF will also be working with the Government on the provision of COVID-19 exclusive educational material, protocols, and standards to the healthcare providers, social and mental health workers, child-care centre workers as well as teachers to enhance their capacity for improved services to children during the pandemic.
UNDP Iran will use the ECHO funds to procure life-saving personal protective equipment for specific government entities to support and strengthen the health system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be used to meet the ongoing protection and treatment needs of vulnerable groups especially people living with and affected by HIV as well as vulnerable men and women at risk. The contribution is a welcome support to Iran’s Universal Health Coverage, avoiding disruptions in health and HIV prevention and ensuring inclusion in access to health and HIV prevention services. Experience and data show that behavioral change and facts are critical to a good prevention strategy; working with the vulnerable communities ensuring that reliable COVID-19 messages and best practices on health and hygiene are made available to target groups.
UNFPA will spend the ECHO fund to procure medical equipment to support healthcare and social workers continue delivering uninterrupted services to pregnant women and the elderly and prevent and control the transmission of COVID-19. The fund will also be used to ensure that service providers and target populations have adequate knowledge and skills to protect themselves from the pandemic. This will be done through the development of training materials, including the update of guidelines and protocols; as well as the provision of training on infection control and preventive measures including psychosocial support.
UNAIDS Iran will use the ECHO fund to procure health items and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as disposable latex-powder-free gloves, alcohol-based liquid hand sanitizer and face masks for the health and social service providers in AIDS Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), NGOs, Positive Clubs to ensure uninterrupted service delivery and prevent transmission of COVID-19. In close collaboration with the National AIDS Programme, UNAIDS will support to develop messaging and communications material as well as the community-monitoring framework and facilitate training sessions for People Living with HIV (PLHIV). The fund will also cover small grants to AIDS CSOs to facilitate community engagement adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic context to enable ‘COVID-sensitive’ community outreach activities and awareness-raising.
Through ECHO funding, Relief International will – in partnership with BAFIA and national NGOs – increase activities focused on Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) – highlighted in Pillar II of the COVID-19 response plan. Key activities will include behavior change communications towards the refugees, migrants and vulnerable members of the host community, mass dissemination of COVID-19 prevention messages, along with the establishment of a hotline designed to address health concerns and provide fact-based information regarding the pandemic.