Category Archives: UNRC Zambia

Articles, Press Releases and other information resources from the UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia

Learning begins at home with play

By The United Nations Resident Coordinator to Zambia, Dr Coumba Mar Gadio

For those of us with school age children, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the amazing and skilful work done by teachers. Many of my colleagues and a huge number of people in Zambia have had to combine day jobs with looking after children and trying to help them learn, even away from school. It’s certainly been a challenge.

Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio .

But this leads me to a wider point. Even before we’d ever heard of the coronavirus disease; mothers, fathers and other caregivers were always children’s first “teachers”. That’s because children are learning and developing even while in the womb, and the first three years of life are the period in life where unrepeated levels of brain development take place. Recent advances in neuroscience provide new evidence about a baby’s brain development during this time: We now know that in their earliest years, babies’ brains form new connections at an astounding rate – more than 1 million every single second – a pace never again repeated.

In the brain-building process, neural connections are shaped by both genes (nature) and life experiences (nurture). This combination of nature and nurture establishes the foundation of a child’s future. Yet too many children are still missing out on the ‘eat, play, and love’ their brains need to develop. Put simply, we don’t care for children’s brains the way we care for their bodies.

Globally there are an estimated 15.5 million 3-4-year-olds with whom an adult does not engage in any cognitive or socio-emotional caregiving activities, such as reading books, telling stories, singing songs or playing with the child. This all goes to show why parenting is the most important job in the world. Parents and caregivers combine the roles of provider, protector, and yes, teacher.

Around the world, parents and care givers often still make the distinction between ‘learning’ and ‘play’ as if they are very different things. And yet the science is very clear: play helps children become collaborative, creative and curious – essential abilities for life and work in the 21st century.

To underline this point, in June one of our United Nations agencies, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), supported the Government of Zambia to launch a new parenting campaign entitled ‘I play, I learn, I thrive’, with the backing of the LEGO Foundation. With government ministries and NGO partners working on early childhood development, we want to get the word out there that stimulation and play are incredibly beneficial to our children, boosting children’s cognitive, physical, social, creative and emotional development.

Many people in Zambia, particularly our forefathers, knew many of these things already. That’s why the campaign is highlighting local proverbs including ‘Imiti ikula empanga’ (Bemba), ‘Ng’ombe ni matole’ (Nyanja) and ‘Mabiya afwida kumubumbi’ (Tonga) that highlight the importance of investing in the early years of our children.

Children are intrinsically motivated to play, which makes it fertile ground for learning and developing new skills. During play, children can take charge, making choices about what they do and how. Play can be a highly social activity, allowing for opportunities to learn from and about others. Thus, play can provide many opportunities for learning.

As adults, there’s no shame in getting involved. We can create a safe environment for play, and also join in with simple games, baby talk, singing, cuddling, tickling and other such things.

So, let’s spread the word about play, and let’s dedicate time to interacting with our children. And if we want to give them the best start in life, let’s give them the nutrition, protection and stimulation that they need to have healthy and powerful brains. Because when children play, they learn, and they thrive.

UN Resident Coordinator Highlights Role of Communication in COVID-19 fight

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lusaka, 14 May 2020: The UN Zambia Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio today visited the COVID-19 Call Centre at the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) in Lusaka to familiarize herself with operations and convey UN Zambia support to Risk Communication and Community Engagement activities led by the Government through the Ministry of Health and ZNPHI.

Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, stressing a point during the tour of the Covid Call Centre at Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) in Lusaka. Photo Credit UNIC/Lusaka/2020/05/14 Charles Nonde

Speaking after the tour, Dr Gadio underscored the importance of communication in the fight against COVID-19. “The fight against coronavirus in a fight against a virus but also a fight against misinformation. I am happy that this call centre which the UN system supports through UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO is helping provide information to the public on the pandemic and also helping correct myths and misconceptions that people receive everyday through a myriad of ways,” said Dr Gadio. “The UN is supporting Risk Communication and Community Engagement by not only giving information to the public but also listening to them and tailoring messages accordingly as the pandemic evolves. No one should be left behind. Community members have a key role in fighting COVID-19 so it is important that we help them get accurate information and follow the prevention guidelines given by the Ministry of Health,” she added.

Under the lead of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations has supported the Government on the development of a multisectoral contingency plan and assessment of the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in Zambia.

With support from cooperating partners, the UN has contributed to ongoing efforts by theGovernment including training of technical staff and helping strengthen surveillance in communities, procurement of personal protective equipment and essential medicines, promoting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in health facilities and strengthening infection prevention and control. Additional support has gone towards strengthening health systems to effectively deliver health services, including supporting human resources for health to provide antenatal care, safe delivery and addressing sexual and Gender-Based Violence, which increases in times of crises.

For more information, please contact: 

United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lusaka, Mark Maseko, National Information Officer, P: +260-211-225-494 | M: + 260-955767062 | E: masekom@un.org

UN Resident Coordinator Joins COVID-19 Sensitisation in Chawama

PRESS RELEASE

Lusaka, 12 May 2020: The UN Zambia Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio today joined COVID-19 sensitization efforts in Lusaka’s Chawama compound where she used a Mobile Public Address-mounted vehicle to make announcements urging community members to adhere to prescribed prevention measures as guide by the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, UN Zambia Resident Coordinator at Chawama Level One Clinic as part of the community outreach on COVID-19

“Joined by the World Health Organization Representative and other members of the UN Country Team, I decided to support Risk Communication and Community Engagement activities in Chawama led by the Government through the Ministry of Health and the Zambia National Public Health Institute,” said Dr Gadio.

“A lot is being done in terms of giving information to the public as well as listening to them and we need to continue and tailor messages accordingly as the pandemic evolves. No one should be left behind. Community members have a key role in fighting COVID-19 so it is important that we encourage them to follow the prevention guidelines,” she added.

Under the lead of World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations has supported the Government on the development of a multisectoral contingency plan and assessment of the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in Zambia. The UN will continue supporting the Government with resource mobilisation and Risk Communication and Community Engagement.

Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, UN Zambia Resident Coordinator with Dr. Nathan N. Bakyaita W.H.O. Zambia Representative during the COVID-19 community sensitisation drive in Chawama.

With support from cooperating partners, the UN has contributed to ongoing efforts by the Government including training of technical staff and helping strengthen surveillance in communities, procurement of personal protective equipment and essential medicines, promoting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in health facilities and strengthening infection prevention and control.

Additional support has gone towards strengthening health systems to effectively deliver health services, including supporting human resources for health to provide antenatal care, safe delivery and addressing sexual and Gender-Based Violence, which increases in times of crises.

For more information, please contact: 

United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lusaka, Mark Maseko, National Information Officer, P: +260-211-225-494 | M: + 260-955767062 | E: masekom@un.org

UN stands with Zambia as the country confirms 16 COVID-19 cases

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lusaka, 27 March 2020: Following the announcement that Zambia has now confirmed 16 cases

Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, UN Resident Coordinator Zambia.

of COVID-19, the United Nations family in Zambia under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator stands in solidarity with the Government and people of Zambia as they respond to the global pandemic.

“As the United Nations, we stand with Zambia and pledge our continued assistance through the Government in ensuring that the pandemic is contained. Under the lead of the World Health Organisation (WHO), we will continue supporting the Government with contingency planning and response, resource mobilisation and Risk Communication and Community Engagement.”

“With support from our cooperating partners, the UN will contribute to ongoing efforts by the Government including training of technical staff and helping strengthen surveillance in communities, procurement of personal protective equipment and essential medicines, promoting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in health facilities and strengthening infection prevention and control,” said UN Resident Coordinator, Dr Coumba Mar Gadio.

Additional support will go towards strengthening health systems to effectively deliver health services, including supporting human resources for health to provide antenatal care, safe delivery and addressing sexual and Gender-Based Violence, which increases in times of crises.

The UN is also working with the Government on the development of a multisectoral contingency plan, leaving no one behind, and assessment of the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in Zambia.

Members of the public are key in helping respond to COVID-19. Every individual should do their part while avoiding panic and stigmatization to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including regular and correct hand washing with soap and water.

Other measures include coughing or sneezing into a tissue or a bent elbow, being sure to safely dispose of the tissue afterwards, maintaining a distance of at least one meter from one another (also called social distancing) whether or not that person is coughing or sneezing, avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth. It is also important to seek medical attention early if a person develops a fever, cough or difficulty in breathing as well as to stay at home if ill.

Zambia joins over 44 other African countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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For more information, please contact:

United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lusaka, Mark Maseko, National Information Officer, P: +260-211-225-494 | M: + 260-955767062 | E: masekom@un.org