Over 4 Lakh Children May Die in South Asia: Health services in all countries have been affected due to coronavirus infection, as most of the resources are currently being used to treat patients infected with COVID-19
In such a situation, the lack of adequate health facilities can seriously affect the health of children and can have serious consequences as well. The UN organization UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) has expressed this apprehension.
UNICEF has said that three lakh children below the age of five years could die in India in the next six months. This data on child deaths will be different from those deaths due to COVID-19.
According to UNICEF, the death toll of children under the age of five in the whole of South Asia can reach four lakh 40 thousand. Most of these deaths have been estimated to be in India.
UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia, Jean Gaff, says, “We fear that for the first time in decades, the number of children who die under five years of age is going to increase.
We need to save mothers, pregnant women, and children in South Asia at any cost.
Over 4 Lakh Children May Die in South Asia in Next 6 Months, India to be Worst-hit, Warns UNICEF
Fighting the epidemic is important, but in the meantime, we cannot lose decades of improvement in maternal and child deaths.” According to UNICEF estimates, after India, the number of deaths in Pakistan is the highest.
Ninety-five thousand children can be killed in Pakistan, 28 thousand in Bangladesh, 13,000 in Afghanistan, and four thousand in Nepal.
What are the reasons?
UNICEF says that in countries where the health system is weak, medical supply chains are being disrupted due to COVID-19 infection. Also, the pressure on human and financial resources is increasing.
Due to lockdown, curfew, and transportation restrictions, people are leaving less in health facilities. People are also feeling the risk of getting an infection.
At the same time, a vaccination campaign has also been stopped in many countries to prevent the spread of corona. India is also not untouched by this. Here too, cases of infection of COVID-19 are increasing.
This has increased the burden on health services, which is creating a challenge in the treatment of children. Babita Jain, head of the pediatric department at Max Hospital, says, “The biggest fear is that the vaccination of children will be delayed.”
If vaccination is not done on time, then it can give rise to many serious diseases. People are afraid to go to the doctor, and the doctors themselves have closed their clinics.
Vaccines taken in the first year of birth are very important. Vaccination can be delayed for a limited time, but after that, it becomes mandatory to vaccinate.”
At the same time, Paul Rutter, Regional Health Advisor, South Asia, UNICEF, said, “It is necessary to provide birth, health, and nutritional services to children during COVID-19.
It would be terrible to see a situation in which thousands of children are killed not by COVID-19 but by disrupting regular services.”
Other important points of the report
- The UNICEF estimate is based on an analysis by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This analysis is published in The Lancet Global Health Journal.
- Based on three conditions in this analysis, it is estimated that 1.2 million children under the age of five may be killed in 118 low and middle-income countries of the world.
- One of the three conditions mentioned in this is the least serious situation in which the supply of health services is reduced by 15 percent.
- In this situation, there may be a 9.8 percent increase in the death of children below the age of five globally, or 1400 children die every day. Apart from this, the death of mothers can increase up to 8.3 percent.
- Worst case situation in which health services are disrupted by 45 percent.
- In such a situation, the death of children below five years can increase by 44.7 percent. The death of mothers can increase up to 38.6 percent.
- Analysis suggests that COVID-19 is hampering family planning, childbirth, prenatal and post-natal care, immunization, and curative services.
- Lack of nutrition and deficiency in the treatment of congenital sepsis and pneumonia will cause the most child deaths.
- These 10 countries have the highest number of child deaths in the worst case of health facilities – Bangladesh, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
- At the same time, these 10 countries will see the highest child mortality rates – Djibouti, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, and Somalia.
- In these countries, it is important to continue the life support services continuously.
- About 11 million children were denied immunization
- In an analysis by the Lancet Global Health Journal, UNICEF has also raised concerns about the indirect effects on children, in addition to the apprehensions about child and maternal mortality. These effects are-
- Around 77 percent of the world (1.80 billion out of 2.35 billion children) under the age of 18 were living at home due to COVID-19 in 132 countries by the beginning of May.
- About 1.3 billion (72 percent) students in 177 countries are not going to school due to nationwide school closures.
- About 37 crore children in 143 countries
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