Today on World Children’s Day, I am reflecting on my role as a mother and how I want to reimagine a different world for my children. I want a world where all children, regardless of where they are born, have the opportunity to live a happy and healthy life and reach their full potential.
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A 2018 study in The Lancet showed that 5 million people in low- to middle-income countries died in 2016 from poor quality healthcare, and an additional 1.5 million people from not having access to care itself.
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In over half the countries in the world including Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, there is only one psychiatrist per 100,000 people. In Asia Pacific, mental illness is the second largest contributor to years lost due to disability. Additionally, less than half of those affected receive any medical treatment, and in China and India, it is less than a tenth. Even when treatment is accessible, it is often insufficient.
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Frontline health workers usually have higher than normal levels of stress while providing healthcare in communities. They are facing tremendous stress now in providing care and services, sometimes managing acute cases, through the difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF has committed to addressing the mental health and psychosocial needs of frontline health workers across all of their work.
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By WHO estimates we need 18 million more frontline health workers (FLHWs) by 2030 to achieve SDG targets and other global health aspirations. An article authored by the Center for Health Worker Innovation's Joanne Peter, published on the ICTworks™ website, discusses how task shifting to virtual services is an opportunity for health systems to do more with the FLHWs they currently have.
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With more than 5.1 billion unique mobile subscribers on the planet, access to a mobile phone now outstrips access to essential health services. Digital technologies—and mobile phones in particular—have potential to dramatically alter how healthcare is delivered and received.
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