Global disruption of essential maternal and child health interventions – such as family planning, childbirth and postnatal care, childbirth and vaccinations – could cause an additional 1.2 million deaths in children under five in just six months, according to an analysis by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, published in the Lancet Global Health Journal.
This projected figure adds to the 2.5 million children who die worldwide every six months before their fifth birthday, and threatens to reverse nearly a decade of progress in tackling preventable child deaths said the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, on Wednesday.
“This pandemic has far-reaching consequences for all of us, but it is undoubtedly the biggest and most urgent global crisis that children have experienced since the Second World War,” said UNICEF Executive Director. UK Sacha. Deshmukh.
“Children’s lives are turned upside down around the world – their support systems have been ripped apart, their borders closed, their education lost, their food supply cut off. Even in the UK, children are at risk from a measles epidemic and school closings are putting vulnerable children at risk. “
Research highlights the extent to which the coronavirus has disrupted medical supply chains in countries with already weak health systems. Visits to health centers are declining due to closures, curfews and disruption to transportation, and as communities continue to fear infection, he said.
The analysis, which examines three scenarios modeled in low- and middle-income countries, warns that in the most optimistic scenario, where health services are cut by about 15%, there would be an increase of 9.8% deaths of children under five – around 1,400 a day – and an 8.3% increase in maternal deaths.
In the worst case, where health services are cut by about 45%, there could be up to 44.7% increase in deaths of children under five and an increase of 38.6 % of maternal deaths per month.
“Our estimates are based on tentative assumptions and represent a wide range of results,” write the authors of the report.
“Nevertheless, they show that if routine health care is interrupted and access to food is reduced (due to inevitable shocks, the collapse of the health system or intentional choices made to respond to the pandemic ), the increase in child and mother deaths will be devastating. “
The closed borders have also prevented people from accessing much needed medical assistance, said UNICEF representative in Jordan Tanya Chapuisat.
“About 10,000 Syrians [along the Syrian-Jordanian border near Rukban] could not receive any medical service [in Jordan] since the lock began six weeks ago and the border closed.
“The children are not getting their vaccines, and the women who were going to have a cesarean could not. We had a lot of sleepless nights, but luckily no one died. “
The 10 worst-case countries for child deaths in the worst case scenario are Bangladesh, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan , Tanzania and Uganda.
Unicef has launched its biggest appeal to reach those affected by the virus and aims to support current efforts by providing medical equipment, carrying out prevention campaigns and supporting health and education services. and social for children.