Experts fear up to 1.2 million additional deaths in six months.
The reduction of routine medical services and the increase in the nutritional deficiencies of the child population due to the restrictions adopted to prevent the coronavirus pandemic could produce, in six months, an additional 1.2 million deaths of children under five years of age, representing about 6,000 deaths a day.
This is what appears in a report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg on Public Health, published in the magazine ‘The Lancet Global Health’ and which the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) uses to raise the alarm with a global campaign, Reimagine, and prevent the pandemic from becoming a long-term crisis for children around the world.
For example, the organization believes “likely” that since mid-April more than 117 million children in 37 countries have not been receiving their measles vaccines due to the interruption of immunization campaigns.
Taking the worst of three assumptions in 118 low- and middle-income countries as the basis of mortality, UNICEF has warned that these additional deaths would add to the 2.5 million deaths of children under the age of five every half year. in these areas.
In this more serious assumption, health interventions would decrease by around 45 percent and infant deaths would increase by up to 44.7 percent, while in the least bad scenario, with a reduction in coverage of 15 percent. percent, child deaths would rise 9.8 percent.
The countries with the highest number of deaths would be Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Uganda, although the highest increase rates would correspond to Djibouti, Esuatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Somalia.
Furthermore, the collateral effects of the coronavirus also threaten to cause an additional 56,700 maternal deaths in six months, adding to the 144,000 deaths that already take place on average in the 118 countries analyzed over a similar period. The most serious assumption includes an increase in maternal deaths of 38.6 percent.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore has noted that “in the worst case, the global number of children dying before their fifth birthday could rise for the first time in decades.” “We cannot allow mothers and children to suffer collateral damage from fighting the virus. And we cannot afford to miss decades of progress in reducing preventable deaths of mothers and children,” he added.
THE OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF THE SANITARY CRISIS
The coronavirus pandemic has led to restrictive measures that have affected the lives of children and not only in the medical field. At the beginning of May, three out of four children under 18, some 1.8 billion, lived in one of the 132 countries where containment policies had been adopted.
Nearly 1.3 billion students – more than 72 percent – do not go to school due to the closure of schools nationwide in 177 countries, despite the fact that almost 370 million children in 143 countries depend on the school canteen as a reliable source daily feeding.
Fore has stressed that “the Covid-19 crisis is a crisis of children’s rights”, and therefore called for an “immediate” response, also in the long term, that “serves to outline a defined plan aimed at rebuilding a world better when we manage to overcome the crisis. ” “Today we have a common responsibility to reimagine what the world will be like in the future,” he added.