New Delhi | Pratyush Ranjan: As the spread of coronavirus pandemic remains far from over in India, Jagran New Media under its commitment to keep its readers informed about the evolving nature of the virus causing COVID-19, is continuing to interact with top doctors and health experts.

In the recent episode of Jagran Dialogues, Jagran New Media’s Senior Editor Pratyush Ranjan interacted with Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, Representative, UNICEF-India, who shed light on the most crucial aspect of the fight against ongoing pandemic – the role of youth. With the threat of the third wave of COVID-19 looming over India, United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) is playing an important role in the fight against pandemic through its ‘YuWaah!’ and other related programs aimed at children and youth in particular.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Q. A devastating second wave of COVID-19 has swept across India like a Tsunami. What has been the role of UNICEF amid the pandemic in India?

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque: Part of UNICEF’s work with government and stakeholders is the fact that we are here with them before the crisis, during the crisis and of course after the crisis too. We have been working very closely with the government during the crisis. On the one hand looking at the emergency type of support which is the procurement of the much-needed oxygen equipment, whether it’s oxygen plants, oxygen concentrator. UNICEF’s role is also crucial in working on developing the protocols, especially the protocol to treat the children when they catch COVID. Before the pandemic, India had five laboratories capable of performing RT-PCR tests, now we have over 2500. So it’s very important that we also support the government in fixing and increasing services.


Q. 2 How are children being affected by this crisis in India? What about the indirect effects of Covid-19 - are children missing out on other critical health care needs and education?

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque: The short answer is yes. It’s really important that we don’t forget that children are suffering from this pandemic. The second wave showed us a greater number of children getting affected because a greater number of the population were affected. When we look at the consequences of COVID and how it has affected families and communities, that’s where we see how children are being affected. So our children haven’t been to school for more than a year. That’s a huge burden on children. Instead of them going out to play we are telling them to stay in their rooms and to learn online. That’s also just a proportion of the population who have the advantage of having a laptop or internet connection. Most families have one device. Either father or mother has one. So children can learn only occasionally. If there are more children, then either boy or girl will get the preference. At times stress leads to violence in the home, and it ends up affecting them directly or indirectly. As we have seen in media, that children are being orphaned. The strain that children are losing love, affection and care providers is creating anxiety. We are happy that ministries have come up strongly for the well-being of such children.

Q. 3. Do you think the young people can become the change agent and bring the countrymen together to face the Covid threat and defeat it successfully? What role young people can play in India's path to recovery?

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque: Absolutely! Children and young people are probably the best and most reliable change makers. Because they come up with a strong focus on what needs to be done and what they can do. And what is right for their friends and family also. That’s where it’s important we don’t see children and young people as passive recipients. They have a role to play. They have a voice. The adults will have to listen to what the youth is saying. So UNICEF has globally adopted a program called Generation Unlimited. In India, we call it ‘Yuwaah!’ It’s a program that is working with and for the young people to look at not just at services. But also how can we provide an enabling environment. So they not just learn but make the transition from learning to work. We are trying to facilitate 200 million young people to gain the skills for productive life and future work and to further partner with 300 young people as change-makers.

Q. 4 What Is YuWaah? Can you tell me more about how it started? How do you think this movement will impact the country at large?

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque: We have had lots of consultations with young people around the country on how can they be better supported in this lockdown. We saw there is not just an urge for young people to contribute to addressing the COVID crisis. But they felt an urgent need to do something. We’ve seen how we can engage them through youth groups, mass media, community radio and digital media. So they can take forward some tasks which are easily doable and safe given the covid times. We also demystify a lot of information about wearing masks and taking vaccines. Our youngsters can drop these misconceptions in their families, friends and communities. That’s why we have this movement come together with young people and take it forward.

Q. 5 So many of our audience belongs to the young age groups. Can you tell us the details of how a young person can be a part of this Young Warrior movement and how they will be mobilised and engaged in the movement?

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque: Young people can join the hashtag ‘YoungWarrior’ (#YoungWarrior) through Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook messenger and they just have to give a missed call if needed. You can go to Yuwaah.org/youngwarrior and click on the ‘Become a Young Warrior’ button. Over there we are celebrating the actions which young people are leading. Anyone who receives just five tasks will get a certificate and after completion of every task, you get the points.

Watch the full interview here:

Posted By: Mukul Sharma