UNICEF Alarms: Over 200,000 Children Fall Victims to Pandemic Impact
Increasingly limited access to health and social services due to the pandemic is likely the cause of about 239,000 deaths among children and mothers in South Asia, according to a UNICEF report. It covers Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, home to a total of 1.8 billion people, and emphasizes that women, children and adolescents are hardest hit by a lack of adequate care because of COVID-19. Nearly 13 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the region and more than 186,000 deaths from the disease, clinica.bg reports.
The response to Covid crisis of countries, including those in South Asia, is quarantine and almost total lockdown. The report examines the impact of lockdowns on health and social services, including schools, as well as the economy. There were 228,000 deaths of children under 5 which is above normal in the six countries. They are believed to be due to the suspension of important services such as immunisation and food aid.
The number of children being treated for severe malnutrition has fallen by more than 80 per cent in Bangladesh and Nepal, and immunisations have fallen by between 35 per cent and 65 per cent in India and Pakistan respectively. Infant mortality increased by 15% in India and by 13% in Bangladesh, while maternal mortality jumped by 21% in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Limited access to contraceptives is also thought to have resulted in 3.5 unwanted pregnancies. The full effect of the pandemic has yet to be clarified, as there is not yet enough data collected from all health and education programs, the report notes.
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