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India to record Largest Increase in Child and Maternal deaths in South Asia in 2020 due to COVID-19: UNICEF 

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India expected to record largest increase in child and maternal deaths NewUNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) in partnership with WHO, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has released a report called ‘Direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 pandemic and response in South Asia’. The report has released estimates which anticipate that India will record the largest increase of deaths among children aged 5 years (15%) & Maternal deaths (18%) among 6 South Asian Countries in 2020 due to pandemic.

  • The 6 South Asian Countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan & Sri Lanka.
  • Disruption in Sexual, reproductive, maternal, neonatal & child health services due to COVID-19 is expected to have a substantial impact on maternal & child mortality.
  • The report commissioned by UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA).

Estimates

Child Deaths

  • The report anticipates an increase of 1, 54, 020 deaths (Increase of 15%) among children aged 5 years in India.
  • The next biggest increase to be recorded by Pakistan – 59, 251 Cases (Increase of 14%).
  • The number of deaths among children aged 5 years in 6 South Asia Countries is estimated to increase by a total of 2, 28, 641 cases (compared to 2019).

Maternal Deaths

  • The Number of maternal deaths in India is anticipated to increase in 2020 by 7,750 deaths (Increase of 18%).

Stillbirths

  • The largest increase in the number of stillbirths is also expected in India (60, 179 – increase of 10%), followed by Pakistan & Bangladesh.
  • Across South Asia as a whole, an estimated 89, 434 additional stillbirths are anticipated.

Deaths due to maternal causes  

  • The number of deaths due to maternal causes among 15-19 year-old females is expected to increase by a total of 1, 191 across South Asia.
  • Greatest Anticipated increases – India (643) & Pakistan (476).

Rise in Communicable Disease-related Adolescent mortality

  • Across South Asia around 5, 943 additional deaths are anticipated from Malaria, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS & Typhoid.
  • India is expected to be hit hardest with an additional 3, 412 adolescent deaths.

Money Allocation:

  • The report also noted that India could spend nearly $10 billion on Covid-19 testing and healthcare utilization by September 2021, the biggest share of the overall costs in the region.
  • Across South Asia, lower educational attainment by this cohort will result in a 15 – 23 per cent decrease in their future lifetime earnings, costing the region $63.5 billion over 45 years.
  • The highest cost will be borne by India ($52.8 billion) and Bangladesh ($7.4 billion), followed by Sri Lanka ($1.9 billion).

Impact of Pandemic on South Asian Region

  • COVID-19 is estimated to have cost the South Asian region more than USD 2.4 Billion. It includes the cost of testing (USD 1.9 Billion) and healthcare utilisation for COVID-19 deaths (USD 581 Million).
  • India will bear the largest share of these costs – It is set to spend around USD 7.8 Billion on testing & USD 1.7 Billion on healthcare utilisation by September 2021.
  • It also stated that India will face the largest number of deaths (4, 90, 000) between October 2020 – September 2021.

Mitigation Strategies

If India institutes all mitigation strategies such as smart lockdowns, hand hygiene and masks, the number of deaths in India due to COVID-19 may fall by 83%.

Effects due to Prolong school closure

  • Due to prolonged closure of schools due to COVID-19 around 9 Million primary and secondary school-aged children are expected to permanently drop out of schools.
  •     The highest number is expected in India – 7 Million.

Recent Related News:

i.On 28th January 2021, UNICEF & WFP released a new report titled “COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition” states that more than 39 billion in-school meals were missed due to the closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About UNICEF:

Executive Director– Henrietta Holsman Fore
Headquarters – New York, United States of America

About UNFPA:

Executive Director – Dr. Natalia Kanem
Headquarters – New York, USA

About WHO

Director General – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ethiopia)
Headquarters – Geneva, Switzerland