Unicef warns: 6,000 children could die every day as coronavirus disrupts vital healthcare services
Every day over the next six months 6,000 children around the world could die as health services are being disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As the whole world is currently battling with the ongoing epidemic, there is a global disturbance of essential maternal and child health interventions. This includes family planning, birth, postnatal care, and vaccinations, as The Guardian reveals.
The UN has warned this could result in an additional 1.2 million deaths of children under the age of five in just six months. The distressing analysis was published in The Lancet Global Health Journal by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
On Wednesday, Unicef stated that this foreseen statistic could reverse a decade of progress on ending preventable child deaths. Sacha Deshmukh, the Unicef UK’s executive director said:
“This pandemic is having far-reaching consequences for all of us, but it is undoubtedly the biggest and most urgent global crisis children have faced since the second world war. Children’s lives are being upended across the globe – their support systems ripped away, their borders closed, their educations lost, their food supply cut off. Even in the UK, children face the threat of a measles outbreak and school closures are putting vulnerable children at increased risk.”
According to the research, coronavirus has been incredibly disruptive to medical supply chains in countries with weak health systems.
The study is taking into consideration three modeled scenarios in low- and middle-income countries. In the best-case scenario, where health services are reduced by nearly 15%, there would be a 9.8% increase in under-five child deaths and a rise of 8.3% in maternal deaths.
As for the worst-case scenario, if health services are reduced by about 45%, the increase in deaths of children under the age of five will be 44.7% per month. The jump in maternal deaths will be 38.6%.
In the analysis, the researchers state:
“Our estimates are based on tentative assumptions and represent a wide range of outcomes. Nonetheless, they show that, if routine healthcare is disrupted and access to food is decreased (as a result of unavoidable shocks, health system collapse, or intentional choices made in responding to the pandemic), the increase in child and maternal deaths will be devastating.”
Furthermore, the Unicef’s Jordan representative Tanya Chapuisat insisted that the closure of borders has also stopped many people from accessing medical assistance. Chapuisat stated:
“An estimated 10,000 Syrians [along the Syrian-Jordanian border near Rukban] have been unable to receive any medical services [in Jordan] since lockdown started six weeks ago and the border was closed. Children aren’t getting vaccines, and women who were due to have caesareans haven’t been able to. We’ve had many a sleepless night, but luckily no one has died.”
The countries projected to suffer the highest death tolls in the worst-case scenario Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Uganda.
According to the distressing projections, 6,000 children could die every day due to the coronavirus negative impact on healthcare systems. To prevent the worst-case scenario from becoming reality, Unicef has launched its biggest campaign dedicated to ‘#GenerationCovid’.