USAID Director in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms. Nancy J. Eslick and UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina dr. Rownak Khan, handed over today 44 phones and 44 tablets to Federal Ministry of Health. The equipment will be distributed to all 44 Mental Health Centres in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, contributing to improved and effective communication of citizens affected with COVID -19 crisis and in urgent need of psychosocial support.
“Centres for mental health all over Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina adapted their work to the crisis and since the very begging, were at the full disposal to citizens in need of psychosocial support, by phone and by working around the clock. Some of the centres provide that kind of support 24 hours a day and over the weekend. Any support provided to assist our efforts to ensure psychosocial and any other support is extremely appreciated. I believe, the donated equipment will contribute to better results in reaching all those who are in need of support.”, said H.E. Vjekoslav Mandic, Federal Minister of Health.
This donation is a part of a larger response of USAID and UNICEF to the affected population, responding to the urgent needs of governments at all levels and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The total value of USAID funded assistance is 500,000 USD, transferred to UNICEF to coordinate the response, focusing mainly on risk communication, mental and psychosocial support, supply of hygiene kit and promotion of critical behavioural changes at the community level.
“This funding is part of a larger commitment of $1.2 million that the United States has provided to help Bosnia and Herzegovina’s emergency response efforts in the face of this crisis. Our emergency funding assistance will help Bosnia and Herzegovina prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based monitoring, support technical experts for response and preparedness, bolster public awareness and community engagement, and strengthen prevention and response activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina communities at highest risk. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. government has committed more than $500 million in assistance specifically aimed at fighting the pandemic in more than 100 of the most at-risk countries around the world.”, said Ms. Nancy J. Eslick, USAID Country Director for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Parents and children are facing major life disruptions with the outbreak of coronavirus disease. School closures, movement restrictions, physical distancing, curfew, isolation and foreseen economic impact, it’s a lot to take in and it’s difficult for everyone in the family to cope with.
“The situation is causing anxiety, stress and depression among populations including children and adolescents. Therefore, one of our primary responses to COVID-19, thanks to the generous support provided by USAID, was to support the governments in providing online and phone psychosocial counselling opportunities, via centres for mental health, to help citizens to get the professional assistance and reduce the psychosocial risks caused by the isolation. During this difficult period, online and phone consultations are the best alternative to get psychological counselling, support and care. It is crucial to continue with this kind of assistance through transitional and post-pandemic phases. “, said dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Similar communication equipment will also be donated to 28 Centres for mental health in Republika Srpska. The USAID support includes increased capacity of risk communication in both entities – Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. In parallel, rapid assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices on COVID-19 will be conducted among the general population – as a basis to develop specialized TV programmes with a special focus for children. These programmes will be broadcast in collaboration with national TV channels and online.
(Photo: Almir Panjeta for UNICEF)