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UNFPA delivers dignity kits to frontline health workers

Every day at 8 in the morning, Ammar Adel got together with a group of volunteers, formed an assembly line and packed hygiene and dignity items into kits to be delivered to frontline health workers as well as women and girls in need.

“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,” says 22-year-old Ammar, a volunteer from Y-PEER, UNFPA’s youth leadership network.

In 10 days, the Y-PEER volunteers managed to pack 11,000 kits at UNFPA Egypt’s country office.  

Y-PEER volunteers managed to pack 11,000 kits in 10 days.

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

In its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, UNFPA is ensuring its interventions address the needs of the most vulnerable, especially women and girls, as well as support frontline health workers in the fight against the pandemic.

The effect of disease outbreaks on women differs from that on men. The COVID-19 outbreak has hindered the access of women and girls to services, hygienic products due to the lack of access to public spaces.

In Egypt, 42 percent of doctors and 91 percent of the nursing staff are women. Women in the health sector are more likely to be exposed to the virus and dealing with enormous stress balancing paid and unpaid work roles. Furthermore, overwhelmed health services may limit access to family planning services and to contraceptives, potentially leading to a rise in fertility rates and the socio-economic impact on individuals, households and communities.

The UNFPA Egypt country office mobilized several partnerships from the private sector to develop and distribute over 30,000 Hygiene/Dignity Kits to support frontline health workers, as well as to women and girls in Egypt to help them maintain their dignity during the COVID-19 outbreak, helping them better cope with the stress brought on by the pandemic.

The kit includes contributions from Procter and Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Zeina Group and Luna Perfumes and Cosmetics, Unicharm and Consolidated Casuals. Overall, UNFPA mobilized in kind donations worth a total of USD 198,000.

“In less than 48 hours, the UNFPA team was able to mobilize enough partnerships to fill an entire kit,” Dr. Aleksandar Bodiroza, UNFPA representative in Egypt, says. “We are very proud and grateful for the in kind donations that will help us support frontline health workers and fulfill the rights of women and girls.”   

In coordination with the Ministry of Health and Population, UNFPA is set to distribute the kits to key vulnerable and most affected population groups. These include male and female frontline health workers, and will include women and girls, particularly those quarantined for prevention, screening and treatment, girls and young women in locked down areas, confined facilities, including children care institutions, orphanages and prisons.

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

The kits will also target vulnerable girls and women in highly populated areas with disrupted water and sanitation facilities and refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented vulnerable migrants that have challenges accessing basic preventive supplies.

“We divided ourselves into two groups; one packing the kits for male health workers and the other for female health workers,” Salma Mahmoud, a Y-PEER volunteer, says.

“We were all so passionate about packing the entire quantity so they can reach those who need them as soon as possible,” the 23-year-old adds.

The kits include sanitary pads, hand soap, disinfectants, toilet paper/tissues, safety razors, tooth paste and a tooth brush.

The kits include sanitary pads, hand soap, disinfectants, toilet paper/tissues, safety razors, tooth paste and a tooth brush.

“Reckitt Benckiser’s purpose is to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world.  We want and need to play our part in limiting the effects and the spreading of the pandemic and we can do this by providing access to our high-quality hygiene products. By partnering with UNFPA, we have been able to reach and support females and women whose access to household items were limited due to COVID19 such as frontliners and females in lockdown areas. This is one step in our long-standing commitment to support Egypt through all hygiene related illnesses and viruses,” Om Prakash, Reckitt Benckiser Health, General Manager.

They will also include a leaflet providing information on preventive measures against COVID-19, including handwashing, the importance of social distancing, and addressing stigma, as well as information on menstrual hygiene for women and girls.

“We are honored to part of the work that the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population and UNFPA are doing to support frontline health workers across Egypt. Through UNFPA’s initiative we are able to donate many of our products like Always Sanitary Pads, Pantene, Head & Shoulders Shampoos, Crest Toothpaste, Oral B Toothbrushes and Gillette Razors to support the frontline workers in their fight against the pandemic. As a Force for Good, we constantly aim to make a significant impact by leveraging our resources, our products, our innovation and our voice to contribute to making their lives better in these extreme circumstances,” Tamer Hamed, General Manager of P&G North Africa & Levant.