By Edward Mukaro
THE United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) is concerned by the adverse effects of COVID- 19 that may likely see gains made on preventing child deaths being lost due to disruptions on service delivery, as the global health system is being overrun by the pandemic’s toll.
In a recent news release: Levels and Trends in Child Mortality, 2020 Report, Who said ‘the number of global under-five deaths dropped to its lowest point on record in 2019 – down to 5.2 million from 12.5 million in 1990, according to new mortality estimates released by UNICEF, WHO, the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the World Bank Group.
Surveys by UNICEF and WHO have shown that the COVID- 19 pandemic has resulted in major disruptions to health services, therefore prompting UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore to state that, “The global community has come too far towards eliminating preventable child deaths to allow the COVID- 19 pandemic to stop us in our tracks.
“When children are denied access to health services because the system is overrun, and when women are afraid to give birth at the hospital for fear of infection, they too, may become casualties of COVID- 19. Without urgent investments to re-start disrupted health systems and services, millions of children under five, especially newborns, could die.”
According to a survey conducted by UNICEF, across 77 countries found that almost 68 percent of countries reported, at last, some disruption in health checks for children and immunization services. In addition, 63% of countries reported disruptions in antenatal checkups and 59% in post-natal care.
In another survey, by the WHO, based on responses from 105 countries, 52% of countries reported disruptions in health services for sick children and 51% in services for the management of malnutrition.
WHO general-director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus implored stakeholders to invest more in the health sector in order to preserve the gains achieved over the years, in as far as preserving lives is concerned.
“The fact that today more children live to see their first birthday than any other time in history is a true mark of what can be achieved when the world puts health and well-being at the centre of our response.
“Now, w must not let the COVID- 19 pandemic turn back remarkable progress for our children and future generations. Rather, its time to use what we know works to save lives, and keep investing in stronger, resilient health systems,” he said.
The COVID- 19 pandemic poses a great danger to the global health system, as its effects are far-reaching.
Meanwhile, efforts are still being made by governments across the globe to get a vaccine ready, as vaccine trials have already kicked-off in selected different parts of the world.
By Edward Mukaro