The recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] between the Region Four Regional Health Services Department and the United Nations International Children’s Fund [UNICEF] will see the two strengthening their collaboration.
The tactical collaboration commenced early the year and according to Regional Health Officer [RHO], Dr. Quincy Jones, this is set to continue in the coming year.
Inking the MOU was the region’s Regional Executive Officer [REO], Ms. Pauline Lucas, and UNICEF’s Deputy Country Representative for Guyana and Suriname, Mr. Irfan Akhtar. They agreed that the MOU is essentially an excellent marriage that is poised to bear fruits beneficial to both sides.
Speaking of the recent meeting, Akhtar said that it provided him with an opportunity to better understand and appreciate the work that is being done by Region Four. He said that UNICEF and the REO have been working tirelessly in advancing the protection of the rights of children, even as he underscored that significant progress has been achieved especially within Region Four.
“Since this is the end of 2019, we are also reflecting together for the priorities for 2020 and beyond, together we are advancing the rights of our children [and] there is a definite need for us to continue working together,” Akhtar said.
He added, “One of the priorities for children is that there is need for more collaboration,” pointing out that there continues to be numerous opportunities for the region and UNICEF to continue working together as they forge ahead in advancing the already existing partnership.
According to Akhtar, as it relates to the partnership, UNICEF and the REO have a common understanding about the way forward, which will embrace some outlined priorities in 2020. “Child protection as it relates to the young population, priorities for providing quality education for children, addressing the issue of dropouts in schools, addressing the issue of teenage pregnancy, of course these are our priorities that will continue into 2020,” he said.
Meanwhile, UNICEF’s Child Protection Officer, Ms. Patricia Gittens, revealed that some of the successes that both sides enjoyed in 2019 included access to much needed supplies at a cheaper cost that is available on the market. Further, it involved leadership that was provided by the REO and RHO in guaranteeing both the fiscal space and access to the services for children who needed it the most.
“In this case, sadly those would be survivors of sexual violence, and that has been a unique success story for Guyana, because there are not many areas that we can speak to for a true integration of health and protection. So now we have more protected persons understanding the health system and vice versa,” Gittens said.
The UNICEF Child Protection Officer pointed out too that another major achievement for 2019 related to the visits that were undertaken by officials of Region Four and UNICEF to Region One with regards to the Venezuelan migration issue. She revealed that this served as an ongoing success story and ongoing priority.
“Given that this Venezuelan issue is a protracted situation, and in many countries you will not find that the government understands that UNICEF treats certain issue as an emergency even though it’s not declared as one, I think REO’s office with Dr. Jones and the rest of the team truly saw it as an emergency issue for Guyana and they were one of the top partners that responded as quickly as possible,” Gittens added.
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