Spanish – Up to 6,000 children could die each day from preventable causes around the world in the next six months, totaling more than 1.2 million. The cause: the impact of the closure of the economy due to the coronavirus on regular health services, warns the UN.
“This is, without doubt, the biggest and most urgent global crisis that children have faced since World War II,” said UNICEF UK Executive Director Sacha Deshmukh.
The risk of children dying from malaria, pneumonia, or diarrhea in developing countries is very high due to the pandemic and “far outweighs any threat posed by the coronavirus,” UNICEF, the UN agency for children warned on May 13.
Infant mortality rates could increase by up to 45% due to coronavirus-related disturbances, while maternal deaths could increase by almost 39%.
These figures are supported by research by the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, which has been noted for compiling the most accurate figures on coronavirus infection. The research is available in the issue of the global health journal The Lancet.
In an interview with The Telegraph UK, UNICEF’s chief health officer, Dr. Stefan Peterson, said these figures were partly a reflection of strict restrictions in most parts of the world that prevent people from leaving their homes without documentation, making essential health care services inaccessible.
He warned that general blockades imposed on low- and middle-income people are not an effective way to control COVID-19 and could have deadly repercussions.
“Indiscriminate lockdown measures do not have an optimal effect on the virus,” he told The Telegraph. “If you are asking families to stay at home in one room in a slum, without food or water, that won’t limit virus transmission,” he said.
Unicef warns lockdown could kill more than Covid-19 as model predicts 1.2 million child deaths https://t.co/lDRwRVM0Qx
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) May 14, 2020
He added, “I am concerned that lockdown measures have been copied between countries for lack of knowing what to do, rarely with any contextualization for the local situation.”
He argues that we cannot try to impose the same standard for such different societies and realities. “The objective is to slow the virus, not to lockdown people.”
Starvation could kill more people per day than the coronavirus has in months
Due to restrictions on production, import, and movement of products, along with massive unemployment, an impending “hunger pandemic” will bring “the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II,” World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned the United Nations Security Council.
The number of starving people could exceed the number of deaths from coronaviruses at 300,000 per day within three months. “I must warn you that if we don’t prepare and act now — to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade — we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months,” said Beasley, who recently recovered from COVID-19.
The Americas will be the hardest hit by unemployment
While much of the world focused its efforts on isolating the population to avoid massive contagion, the economy stalled, and about half of the world’s workforce could lose their jobs.
According to the latest report from the International Labour Organization (ILO), 1.6 billion people will lose their livelihoods as a result of the economic crippling effects of the COVID-19 quarantine.
In the first month of the health crisis alone, 60% of the income of informal workers was lost worldwide. Latin America and the Caribbean were hit the hardest, while in Africa, some 158 million people working in informal conditions, equivalent to 54% of total employment, saw their incomes reduced by up to 81%.
The loss of 12.4% of working hours in the second quarter will make the Americas the continent most affected by unemployment, compared to 11.8% in Europe and Central Asia. In the rest of the world, the loss of working hours is around 9.5%.
Although children have so far been the least affected by the lethality of COVID-19, the impact on the economy and mobilization restrictions have made them particularly vulnerable, more so when their parents are unable to support them.
That is why UNICEF warns that the impact is not just on the present but also at a historical level. It implies a step backward by decades in terms of the progress that has been made worldwide in eliminating preventable infant deaths.