COVID-19 Situation Report No. 1 for UNFPA Arab States

17 April 2020
Author: UNFPA ASRO

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Highlights
● All countries in the region have confirmed cases and the disease may now spread quickly.
● The region is home to some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with more than 62.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance prior to COVID-19, including 15.5 million women of reproductive age of whom an estimated 1.5 million are pregnant.
● After years of protracted crisis, people’s resilience is weakened, and the fragile health systems are ill-equipped to step up the COVID-19 response. Some 74 million people in the region lack access to a basic hand washing facility (UN Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia).
● According to the recent OCHA risk index, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Yemen and Syria are already above the risk threshold not taking into account the potential impact of the pandemic.
● Restrictions on movement and services vary by country with enforced curfews and banned travel. The start of Ramadan (23 April) raises concerns about further spreading of the virus unless clear prevention and community distancing measures are adopted.
● The closures have strained UNFPA service delivery and led to shortages of supplies, including personal protective equipment. All stakeholders are implementing.
● The UNFPA Arab States Regional Office (ASRO) supports country offices and works with governments, UN agencies, and regional entities to coordinate efforts for sexual and reproductive health (SRH), gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response, and wellbeing for vulnerable populations in the context of COVID-19.
● UNFPA country offices stepped up advocacy and are coordinating with UN agencies to minimize disruption to lifesaving SRH and GBV services, provision of PPE and wellness of health workers through infection prevention and control training. Amidst restrictions, Alternate solutions to deliver services are underway including virtual outreach, mobile clinics, home visits, hotlines and provision of dignity kits in isolation centres. *Kingdom of Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, State of Kuwait, State of Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman

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