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Since 2020, the world has been struggling with one of the most infectious viruses in world history, COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus has become a pandemic in a very short time, various measures have been taken by the governments and vaccine administrations have been carried out to reduce the spread, eliminate fatal health risks and prevent negative consequences of the pandemic. Despite all the efforts, COVID-19 continues to claim lives, cripple economies and undermine health systems and capacities. The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA Turkey, WHO, UNHCR and the Ministry of Health have joined forces for the “Promoting Innovative Service Provision Models to Support the Covid-19 Health System Response” project, aiming to strengthen Turkey’s COVID-19 response. The project is implemented with the financial support of the United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund. 

Ankara, Turkey - The world has been undergoing one of the deadliest pandemics of its history. As of July 2021, COVID-19 has caused the death of more than 4 million people and infection of almost 200 million people all over the world. In Turkey, 5,6 million people have been infected and more than 50,000 people lost their lives due to the pandemic. 

While the pandemic has affected various sectors, one of the most affected ones has been the health sector. The severity of the pandemic has not only increased the need for capacity and resources allocated to COVID-related health services but also resulted in serious reductions in the share of resources allocated to non-COVID services and exacerbated the existing shortages in service capacity such as maternal and newborn care. Besides, despite the resources allocated to COVID-related services, there are still obstacles in vaccine access and other health services to the remotest areas and the most vulnerable groups such as refugees all over the world.   

In this period, particularly health needs of women and newborns have been overshadowed due to lockdowns and other restrictions. According to the latest UNFPA data, 12 million women lost access to contraception due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, leading to 1,4 million unintended pregnancies. Furthermore, gender-based violence cases as well as child, early and forced marriages have also increased during the pandemic.

The “Promoting Innovative Service Provision Models to Support the Covid-19 Health System Response” project is implemented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA Turkey) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, WHO and UNHCR with the financial support of the United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund. The project aims to improve COVID-19 response in Turkey.

In scope of the project, mobile health service units have so far reached out to over 3000 individuals in the remotest areas of Ankara and Konya. The units support the vulnerable groups in terms of providing COVID-19 prevention and response services including vaccination. Furthermore, risk communication and awareness-raising services for sexual and reproductive health, prevention of GBV and fulfillment of specialized COVID-19 needs have also been provided. To support community health in this respect, mobile service units distribute informative brochures regarding COVID-19 protection, hygiene, birth, breastfeeding, prenatal, postnatal and newborn care, nutrition during pregnancy, infant feeding, violence against women, sexually transmitted infections and contraceptive methods.

The ultimate aim of the project is, thereby, to leave no one behind in the struggle against COVID-19.