UN and China cooperating on strengthening health services
Updated 13:49, 20-Feb-2020
Babatunde Ahonsi

Editor's Note: The COVID-19 outbreak has created many problems and uncertainties within China and around the world. Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in China, shares his views with CGTN on China's response to the situation and UNFPA's work in combating the COVID-19. The views expressed in the video are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of CGTN.

CGTN: What is your take on China's management of (the) COVID-19?

Ahonsi: At the UNFPA, we have been encouraged by the recent decisions of the authorities, both at the national and provincial level, to issue very clear guidelines – guidance documents – as to how to ensure the protection of pregnant women and newborns as part of the response to the outbreak. As you know, pregnant women and newborns are particularly vulnerable to this infection. So, we are very glad that clear protocols have been issued as to how to protect pregnant women and to protect the well-being of newborns as well. Because without that, the response will not be complete.

CGTN: How's UNFPA participating in the efforts to protect women and children in this public health crisis?

Ahonsi: Presently, (the) UNFPA is already in the process of contributing to the medical supply needs of China. To better address prevention, we are going to not only provide supplies, medical supplies and sanitary products, that would help protect health workers, but also women and girls that are likely to be impacted by this outbreak. 

We really want to ensure that there is a focus. Part of why we are doing this is to ensure that there is a focus on sustaining the accessibility of vulnerable women and young people to quality sexual and reproductive health services as part of the response. 

I'm happy to say here that in consultation with China's Ministry of Commerce, the UNFPA has already drawn on its global emergency fund to avail additional resources for this response. So we are already working tirelessly to ensure that this supplies and the sanitary products that I mentioned earlier, the hygiene product that I mentioned earlier, will become available very soon to those female health workers, women and girls at the epicenter of the epidemic, [in] Hubei Province.

We will work with the National Health Commission, and we're already in touch with them to identify gaps and areas of cooperation where we can strengthen preparedness in terms of sexual and reproductive health services that women and young people need during health emergencies like this one.

As you know, we've had recent reports that some newborns may have been infected by their mothers. It's not yet very clear as to what the modes of transmission is, or are. But one thing for sure is that what this tells us is that we must pay attention to sexual and reproductive health issues within health emergency responses, including maternal and child health, and newborn health.

To all the people of China, the UNFPA commends your fortitude in these, presently trying, circumstances. And it is our hope that life will soon get back to normal. So, we express our full solidarity with the Chinese people. We stand firmly with the Chinese people. 中国加油,湖北加油.

 (If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)