COVID-19: Health

Public Health

Global and local health officials are playing a crucial role in keeping people informed about the situation in their community and what is being done to stop the spread. Simplify and amplify the guidance of your location and spread information by fact checking and sourcing messages.

  • WHO has created a WhatsApp group anyone can subscribe to for the latest numbers, myth busters, travel advice and more.
  • WHO also has a list of asks to the public sector during COVID-19.
  • How much do you know about COVID-19? UNICEF created this interactive quiz.
  • WHO has created new guidelines for physical activity
  • Get your daily COVID-19 updates and briefings directly from public health officials at WHO.
  • El Pais has a useful interactive showcasing how COVID-19 spreads through the air.
  • Prevent the spread by hand washing, covering your cough, physical distancing (maintaining at least six feet between you and someone else) and by staying home, if feasible.
  • COVID-19 symptoms generally include fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath.

Child Health

While it appears most children have milder COVID-19 symptoms than adults, there is concern for children with underlying health issues, e.g., malnourished, those living with HIV or battling lymphoma and leukemia.

  • The UN launched the policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on children, exploring the ramifications of the pandemic of the world’s children and the specific protection measures that must be put in place for vulnerable children.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidelines strongly suggesting that children are physically present in classrooms this fall.
  • Get the most up to date information from the CDC and UNICEF.
  • UNICEF and WHO have guidance in English, Arabic, French, Spanish and Russian.
  • Pediatrics has two papers specific to COVID-19 occurrence in children.
  • WHO has guidance on helping children cope with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Save the Children released a report on the hidden impact of COVID-19 on child well-being
  • UNICEF has a six-point plan for “averting a lost COVID-19 generation
  • How to talk to children about crisis:
    –   Give age appropriate information
    –   Be reassuring
    –   Try to have some fun
  • The Lancet has published a correspondence on Parenting in the time of COVID-19
  • In a partnership with the Parenting for Lifelong Health initiative, UNICEF published tips for parents and caregivers on topics such as talking about COVID-19 with children, keeping children safe online, managing stress, and more.
  • WHO & Disney Junior produced a hand washing public service announcement for children.
  • A story book has been released on how children can cope with COVID-19. The book – My hero is you, how kids can fight COVID-19, explains how children can protect themselves, their families and friends from coronavirus and how to manage difficult emotions when confronted with a new and rapidly changing reality.
    Read the book – My Hero is You: English | Other language versions
  • Sesame Street’s Elmo released a picture book titled, “Heroes Wear Masks: Elmo’s Super Adventure.” The book is designed to help children understand the changes they will face in the classroom such as masks, having their temperatures checked, and social distancing.

Related links:

Maternal Health

The effect of COVID-19 on pregnant women is an ever-evolving situation; follow the latest updates from the CDC and WHO. A Yale Medicine Ob/Gyn answered some common questions and concerns about pregnancy and COVID-19 in this article.

  • Pregnant women should maintain access to regular health services
  • There are no known cases of mother to child transmission of COVID-19

Pregnant, breastfeeding women

The WHO has a regularly updated Q and A on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Ultimately the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks.

  • The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has recommended that breastfeeding women who become ill should not be separated from their newborns.
  • Research has shown no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through breastmilk, nevertheless, UNFPA urged in its recent statement that mothers who are infected should wear a mask when near their baby, wash their hands before and after feeding, and disinfect contaminated surfaces.  And if a mother is too ill to breastfeed, she should be encouraged to express milk for the baby, while taking all necessary precautions.
“Mental health and psychosocial support should be made available
to affected individuals and their families.”



Adolescents represent over 1.8 billion of the total world population. In some countries, adolescents are over 50 percent of the total national population. With global school closures in over 188 countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic and severe economic crisis leading to job losses, adolescents face an unprecedented period of mental stress. As the virus spreads, issues of connectivity and access will continue to emerge. Nevertheless, new ways of providing information and essential services such as sexual and reproductive health and rights to young people must be established. Also, young people can be important allies and resource in mitigating risks and for community outreach.

  • UNFPA has put together a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response technical brief with key messages and interventions for young people.
  • The UNICEF Voice of Youth page provides a platform to socially share and tips on mental health and COVID-19, focusing on ways to relieve mental stress.
  • The United Nations  Secretary General Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake, weekly, will introduce ten young people fighting the coronavirus in their communities, highlighting how young people are rising up to meet the challenge of the pandemic.
  • Every Woman Every Child has partnered with MTV Staying Alive Foundation, UNITAID and ViacomCBS to create a 60-part mini-series titled MTV Shuga: Alone Together aimed at educating and sensitizing adolescents and young people on COVID-19.
  • The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine has assembled resources for teens and their and families regarding COVID-19.
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres has launched his latest policy brief, “COVID-19 and Universal Health Coverage.” The brief includes recommendations for controlling further transmission of COVID-19, protecting essential health services during the pandemic, ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests, treatments, and more.


Once a vaccine is developed and available, it must be made available to all who need it. This is a challenge to gear up for.

  • World leaders are uniting behind a people’s vaccine for COVID-19
  •  The GAVI Board approved reallocation of up 10 percent of funds to the coronavirus response in GAVI eligible countries.
  • @Gavi is committed to helping reduce the burden of the coronavirus pandemic on fragile health systems and will fight to develop and deliver vaccines that are effective and accessible to all.  Read the statement.