Hanoi (VNA) - The Action Month for Children is held every June, coinciding with the children's summer holiday across the nation. This year, activities will focus on children affected by COVID-19, particularly those in especially difficult circumstances, to help them gain equal opportunities for development like their peers. 

At a ceremony on May 31 to launch the Action Month, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said: “Let’s listen to children with our hearts and protect them with our actions. Every ministry, sector and locality has a responsibility to ensure children live in a safe environment, for their physical and mental development.”

Child welfare indicators decline due to COVID-19 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a great impact on all of society, though especially children. The pandemic affects them in a multitude of ways, from threatening their safety, psychology, physical and mental health, and nutrition, causing disruption to their education and expanding inequality in access to quality education, to limiting their access to physical activities, entertainment and social relationships. 

It is estimated that 7.35 million students at all levels in 62 provinces and centrally-run cities had to study online, of whom a large number come from poor families, minority ethnic groups, living in welfare facilities or in mountainous and remote areas, and with disabilities, who were unable to study online due to a lack of means. 

Furthermore, more than 4,300 children were orphaned by the pandemic, most of who are in Ho Chi Minh City and other southern localities.

Listen to children with heart, protect children by actions: PM hinh anh 1Children return to school after a long disruption due to COVID-19 (Photo: VNA) 

UNICEF Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers said a decline has been seen in many children's welfare indicators, including both physical and mental health, nutrition, education, protection from violence, access to water and hygiene, and social assistance coverage. 

UNICEF estimate that one in every five children in Vietnam faces the risk of multidimensional poverty, and the situation is even worse in rural areas and children in ethnic minority families. 

 Acting more strongly and pragmatically

Considering these circumstances, the Action Month for Children has planned a series of activities designed to ease the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on millions of children. The activities also focus on working towards targets in child care, education and protection by 2025 and 2030, set by the 13th National Party Congress and the Government’s Children Development Strategy. 

Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung said that this year is even more significant due to the pandemic, as children are unable to go to school or meet their friends and teachers ahead of a summer full of lively activities. 

During the month, there will be activities to promote care for children affected by COVID-19, particularly their mental well-being; implement measures to ease the impact of natural disasters and climate change on children; and reduce children fatality and malnutrition. 

“We need to take stronger and more practical action to ensure every child can live in a safe and friendly environment, receive good care and enjoy their full rights,” the minister said. 

Listen to children with heart, protect children by actions: PM hinh anh 2PM Pham Minh Chinh visits children at the Thi Nghe Social Protection Centre for Children with Disabilities in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: VNA)

Flowers urged Vietnam to pay special attention to the most vulnerable and to all who have had their development stalled over the past two years. 

“I feel responsible for you all, whatever I can, whatever UNICEF can urgently address, from the lost brain development from poor nutrition, the lost learning from closed schools, the missed vaccinations, and deepening poverty and the silent suffering from increased stress, loneliness and all too often, violence and abuse,” she said at the launch of the Action Month.

PM Chinh affirmed that everyone must act together to ensure that children are the first to benefit from the country’s socio-economic development. 

“We are resolved to realise the goal of physical and mental development for children,” he said./.