Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

The United Nations Development Programme supports the celebration of December 5, the International Volunteer Day, which this year is held under the motto "Together We Can Through Volunteering." A series of events are organized in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Karakalpakstan to support the most active health volunteers in the Aral Sea region.

The training of health volunteers in the region began in 2012 within the framework of the UN Joint Programme “Building the resilience of communities affected by the Aral Sea disaster through the Multi-partner Human Security Fund for the Aral Sea”. The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme supported the implementation of the volunteer component in the project, as well as training and equipping health volunteers. From 2012 to date, 3,710 volunteers have been trained throughout the region and have helped to improve health literacy for 386,906 people. Their main mission is to educate the residents of their communities about measures to prevent pulmonary, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular diseases, as well as to improve the health of mothers and children. The focus from this year is on the prevention the spread of coronavirus infection. The role of volunteers is defined as “key” in the World Health Organization's Strategic Preparedness and Response to COVID-19 Plan. Risking their own health, the volunteers of Karakalpakstan continue to share their experience, monitor, and assess the health of their fellow villagers.

Volunteerism in Karakalpakstan continue to create positive change. We have therefore included it throughout all UNDP projects in the region. In 2020 new topic was added to their agenda, related to combating COVID-19. In view of the new challenges, volunteers are helping residents avoid coronavirus and other diseases. They bring to them the recommended precautions and respiratory hygiene rules, online consult through a dedicated Telegram channel, - said Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan, in her congratulatory speech to health volunteers in Karakalpakstan.

This year alone, despite strict quarantine restrictions, 317,822 local residents received information booklets, brochures, posters, learned about the symptoms of coronavirus and other diseases, about measures to prevent the spread of diseases, both through orientation sessions and trainings, and online via telegram channel.

In honour of the celebration of the International Volunteer Day, UNDP and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, with the assistance of the UNV Regional Office for Europe and the CIS, joined forces to select and encourage the most active community volunteers in 6 nominations. The winners were determined based on the number of information sessions held on the prevention of pulmonary, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal diseases, strengthening the health of mothers and children, prevention of COVID-19, as well as among those medical workers who volunteered to support the population during the isolation period.


Taking into account security measures, in compliance with the quarantine regime, on December 7 and 8, 2020, in Takhtakupyr, Karauzyak, Bozatausky, Chimbai, Kegeili, Muynak, Kungrad, Kanlykul, Shumanaysky, Khodzheley and Nukus districts, meetings were held with the winning volunteers in the form of prizes and gifts phones, tablets and patronage bags. For example, Baimanova Kundyz from the village council of citizens "Dauir" of the Takhtakupir district held 1863 meetings highlighting the main symptoms of respiratory diseases and measures to prevent them. Kadyrova Shamshyrak from Kegeyli successfully organizes 1,700 sessions on the diseases of the cardiovascular system, and Zhabbarbergenova Zaripa from Chimbay district met with her fellow villagers for about 1985 times both in virtual and offline mode to raise awareness on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

On December 10, 2020 a special online video conference was also organized in honour of the holiday date for the volunteers of Karakalpakstan and their colleagues from the National Volunteer Network of the Republic of Kazakhstan, where 2020 was declared the Year of the Volunteer, also share recommendations on the most optimal solutions for inculcating new healthy habits of a healthy lifestyle among the population.

The UN Development Programme together with UNFPA and financial support from the Government of Japan, are working to strengthen the resilience of local communities in the Aral Sea region to environmental and economic vulnerabilities, as well as in terms of public health. Among the main challenges is to improve the quality of health services, especially in remote rural areas, by strengthening the technical and institutional capacity of the local health care system to provide maternal, child and reproductive health services.

As part of the implementation of the Programme, 115,000 information booklets, posters on the prevention of coronavirus in Uzbek, Karakalpak and Russian languages, 20,000 medical masks were transferred to the region. Healthcare workers and community volunteers have been provided with medical supplies and special equipment: protective coveralls, special glasses, antiseptics, non-contact thermometers and pulse oximeters.

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