19 March 2020: Plan International Australia responds to Covid-19, fearing devastating impact on world’s most vulnerable communities

Media Contact: Jane Gardner, 0438 130 905/ jane.gardner@plan.org.au; Claire Knox, 0452 326 549/ claire.knox@plan.org.au

Global child rights and humanitarian organisation Plan International is preparing to respond to the spread of COVID-19, ahead of a potentially ‘devastating’ impact on the world’s lower-income communities. 

“The worst health crisis of a generation is severely challenging even the most advanced economies. The consequences in poorer countries with fragile health systems could be far more devastating,” CEO of Plan International Australia, Susanne Legena, said. 

“We are very concerned how marginalised communities might cope with the wide-ranging health, social and economic impact of this crisis.  We are closely monitoring the impact on our operations and place utmost importance on the safety and well-being of our staff and communities. 

“Thankfully, children do appear to be less impacted by COVID-19 than adults, but nonetheless the pandemic will almost certainly have a profound impact on the environment in which children grow and develop. The challenges for children, particularly girls, ranging from disruption in education, increased risk of sexual violence and mental health risks, will be much greater in lower-income countries.”

Ms Legena urged people to consider how much more disastrous the virus will be for those who do not have access to soap and water, who are already weakened by hunger and who live in precarious temporary refugee camps.  

“COVID-19 has transcended borders. Some of us are more at risk than others, but we are all facing it – and its impacts on everyday life – together.

“Next time you’re washing your hands, I ask you to spare a thought for the communities who don’t have access to clean water, let alone soap. Please don’t forget those families living in makeshift homes in crowded refugee camps and the children facing the Southern Africa food crisis, whose health and immunity are already compromised. 

“The children and communities we work with around the globe are facing the same risks we are, but with lesser means to protect themselves and the people they care about.”

Plan International is active in over 75 countries and supports thousands of disadvantaged communities through a network of nearly 10,000 staff.   

“Globally, Plan International’s response will focus on working with communities, national Governments and partners to tackle the spread of COVID-19 through dissemination of public health information and promotion of best hygiene practices, including installation of hand-washing facilities,” Ms Legena added. 

“We will draw upon our experience of responding in medical emergencies such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We will work to support the most vulnerable children around the world in the best way we can.

“We will also work with teachers, parents and health care providers to ensure children get the support they need during this crisis as well as intensifying support and preventive measures in refugee and displaced camps where we currently work.”

About Plan International Australia

Put simply, we’re the charity for girls’ equality. We tackle the root causes of poverty, support communities through crisis, campaign for gender equality, and help governments do what’s right for children and particularly for girls. We believe a better world is possible. An equal world; a world where all children can live happy and healthy lives, and where girls can take their rightful place as equals.