The United Nations Children's Agency has warned that another 6,000 children may die every day over the next six months from preventable causes as the COVID-19 pandemic weakens health systems and disrupts routine services.
When the outbreak of the corona virus began in the fifth month, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) requested $ 1.6 billion to provide humanitarian aid to children affected by the pandemic.
The health crisis is "quickly becoming a child rights crisis. And without urgent measures, another 6,000 children under the age of five could die every day," it said.
With the cost of delivery, shipping and care rising dramatically, the agency's appeal against a $ 651.6 million application in late March reflects the devastating socio-economic impact of the disease and the increasing needs of families.
"Schools are closed, parents are unemployed and families are under pressure," said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore on Tuesday.
"If we think about what a world would look like after COVID, these means will help us to respond to the crisis, to recover from its consequences and to protect children from their consequences."
The estimate of the 6,000 additional preventable cause deaths over the next six months is based on an analysis by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, published in the Lancet Global Health Journal on Wednesday.
UNICEF said it was based on the worst of three scenarios that analyzed 118 low and middle income countries, and estimated that another 1.2 million deaths over the next six months due to the reduction in routine health insurance and an increase in Health insurance could occur. called child wasting.
In addition to the 144,000 likely deaths in the same group of countries, around 56,700 additional maternal deaths could occur in just six months. The worst scenario in which children die before their fifth birthday would mean an increase "for the first time in decades", Fore said.
"We cannot allow mothers and children to suffer collateral damage in the fight against the virus, and we cannot allow decades of progress in reducing preventable child and maternal deaths," she said.
Access to key services such as routine vaccination has been compromised for hundreds of millions of children and threatens a significant increase in child mortality.
According to a UNICEF analysis, around 77 percent of children under the age of 18 worldwide live in one of 132 countries with COVID-19 movement restrictions.
The UN agency also pointed out that mental health and the psychosocial effects of restricted movement, school closures and subsequent isolation are likely to increase levels of stress, especially for vulnerable young people.
At the same time, they claimed that children living with restricted mobility and socio-economic decline are more at risk of violence and neglect. Girls and women are at increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
UNICEF noted that refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons have limited access to protection and services in many cases, while they are increasingly exposed to xenophobia and discrimination.
"We have seen what the pandemic means for countries with developed health systems and we are concerned about what it would do for countries with weaker systems and less available resources," said Fore.
In countries suffering from humanitarian crises, UNICEF is working to prevent transmission and mitigate the collateral impact on children, women and vulnerable populations – with a special focus on access to health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and protection.
So far, the UN agency has announced that it has received $ 215 million to support its pandemic response, and additional funding will help build on results already achieved.
As part of its response, UNICEF reached more than 1.67 billion people with COVID-19 prevention reports on hand washing, coughing and sneezing. over 12 million with critical water, sanitation and hygiene supplies; and almost 80 million children with distance learning or learning at home.
The UN agency has delivered more than 6.6 million gloves, 1.3 million surgical masks, 428,000 N95 respirators and 34,500 COVID-19 diagnostic tests to 52 countries.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)