Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference on the situation of the coronavirus (COVID-2019), in Geneva, Switzerland, February 28, 2020. REUTERS-Denis Balibouse-File Photo

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is committed to the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic on all fronts, particularly protecting young people.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, made this known in a statement posted on the organisation’s website after the inauguration of “Read the World Initiative’’ to support children and young people in isolation.

Read the World is a reading initiative amid COVID-19 pandemic, a collaboration of the International Publishers Association (IPA), WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“We understand the fear and anxieties many feel and know how the joy of reading can stimulate young minds, ease tensions and provide hope,” the WHO director-general said.

The statement also quoted UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore as saying: “Children’s lives and routines have been turned upside down in just a few short weeks.

“Even when the outside world is out of bounds, for now, reading can remind children and young people that the transportive power of books is unlimited.”

Similarly, the IPA President, Hugo Setzer said “these are uncharted waters for us all, and the psycho-social effects of prolonged isolation and social distancing are yet to be seen and understood.

“All of us should take particular care of our mental health at the moment, and especially that of young minds.

“The IPA wanted to do something positive to bring children and their favourite writers closer, to stimulate their interest in books and to create a carefree moment for families to share during this difficult period of confinement.”

According to the statement, the initiative started on Thursday, being International Children’s Book Day, with Italian author Elisabetta Dami, creator of the popular character, Geronimo Stilton.

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