The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday warned that an additional 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weaken health systems and disrupt routine services.
UNICEF has now requested USD 1.6 billion to support its humanitarian response for children impacted by the pandemic.
“The health crisis is quickly becoming a child rights crisis. And without urgent action, a further 6,000 under-fives could die each day,” it said.
The estimate is based on an analysis by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, published on Wednesday in the Lancet Global Health Journal.
“Based on the worst of three scenarios in 118 low- and middle-income countries, the analysis estimates that an additional 1.2 million under-five deaths could occur in just six months, due to reductions in routine health service coverage levels and an increase in child wasting,” said UNICEF.
As per a report by UNICEF, some 56,700 more maternal deaths could also occur in just six months, in addition to the 144,000 deaths that already take place in the same countries over a six-month period.
“Under a worst-case scenario, the global number of children dying before their fifth birthdays could increase for the first time in decades,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“We must not let mothers and children become collateral damage in the fight against the virus. And we must not let decades of progress on reducing preventable child and maternal deaths be lost.,” she added.
“The COVID-19 crisis is a child rights crisis. We need an immediate-, medium- and long-term response that not only addresses the challenges created by the pandemic and its secondary impacts on children, but also outlines a clear version for building back a better world when the crisis finally recedes. For that, we need everyone’s ideas, resources, creativity and heart.” said Fore.