Averting a Lost COVID Generation: Analysis of UNICEF Report

Averting a Lost COVID Generation: Analysis of UNICEF Report

Prelude

There is a saying “Keep the child within you alive”. Why do we say it? In my opinion, we always want that enthusiasm, curiosity, and passion for life alive within ourselves. Well, that is easier said than done. Let’s look around and understand what today’s children are going through during a pandemic. UNICEF, in a new report, warned significant and growing concerns for children as the COVID-19 pandemic lurches toward a second year.

Averting a Lost COVID Generation is the first UNICEF report to broadly outline the dire and growing consequences for children as the pandemic drags on. According to the report, a long-term impact on the education, nutrition, and well-being of an entire generation of children and young people will be observed. Though the overall symptoms among infected remain insignificant, infections are rising on daily basis.

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What does the report say?

COVID-related disruptions to critical health and social services for children pose the most serious threat to children. The report finds that, as of 3rd November, in 87 countries with age-disaggregated data, children and adolescents under 20 years of age accounted for 1 in 9 of COVID-19 infections, or 11 percent of the 25.7 million infections reported by these countries.

Unicef Analysis countries

The data from the UNICEF surveys across 140 countries draws following observations:

  • Around one-third of the countries in the analysis witnessed a drop of at least 10 percent in coverage for health services such as routine vaccinations, outpatient care for childhood infectious diseases, and maternal health services. Fear of infection is a prominent reason.
  • There is a 40 percent decline in the coverage of nutrition services for women and children across 135 countries. As of October 2020, 265 million children were still missing out on school meals globally. More than 250 million children under 5 could miss the life-protecting benefits of vitamin A supplementation programs. 
  • 65 countries reported a decrease in-home visits by social workers in September 2020, compared to the same time last year.

More alarming data from the report include:

  • As of November 2020, 572 million students are affected across 30 country-wide school closures – 33 percent of the enrolled students worldwide.
  • An estimated 2 million additional child deaths and 200,000 additional stillbirths could occur over a 12-month period with severe interruptions to services and rising malnutrition.
  • An additional 6 to 7 million children under the age of 5 will suffer from wasting or acute malnutrition in 2020, a 14 percent raise that will translate into more than 10,000 additional child deaths per month – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • Globally, the number of children living in multidimensional poverty – without access to education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation, or water – is estimated to have soared by 15 percent, or an additional 150 million children by mid-2020.

As a member of society, we are asking you all to listen to the children and prioritize their needs. As we all reimagine the future and look ahead toward a post-pandemic world, children must come first.

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The data used for the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection among children and adolescents under age 20 is the re-analyzed country-level data from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) (https://osf.io/mpwjq/).

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Cover pic – Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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