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UN Sounds Alarm on South Asia Children Covid-related Deaths

UN Sounds Alarm on South Asia Children Covid-related Deaths
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By Staff, Agencies

The coronavirus pandemic may have indirectly contributed to around 228,000 additional child deaths in 2020, 11,000 maternal fatalities and 3.5 million unwanted pregnancies in South Asia, the UN said in a report Wednesday.

The study commissioned by UNICEF blamed “drastic cuts in the availability and use of essential public health services” because of the pandemic across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, home to 1.8 billion people.

“The fall-off of these critical services has had a devastating impact on the health and nutrition of the poorest families,” said UNICEF regional director George Laryea-Adjei.

“It is absolutely vital that these services are fully restored for children and mothers who are in desperate need of them, and that everything possible is done to ensure that people feel safe to use them,“ Laryea-Adjei added, AFP reported.

The estimates were based on actual observed changes and modelling exercises using data from before the pandemic in South Asia, where in 2019 alone 1.4 million children under five died, 63 percent of them newborn babies.

Countries in the region, like elsewhere, imposed stringent lockdown measures to halt the spread of coronavirus. Many restrictions have since been eased although many schools remain shut.

The report said that even where health services were not shut down, the number of people visiting them declined.