UNICEF: Daily death rate could spike by 6,000 for under-fives due to coronavirus

As the coronavirus outbreak enters its fifth month, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that the health crisis is “quickly becoming a child rights crisis”, requesting $1.6 billion to support its humanitarian response for children impacted by the pandemic. And without urgent action, a further 6,000 under-fives could die each day, according to the UN News Centre.

With a dramatic increase in the costs of supplies, shipment and care, the agency appeal is up from a $651.6 million request made in late March – reflecting the devastating socioeconomic consequences of the disease and families’ rising needs.

“Schools are closed, parents are out of work and families are under growing strain”, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said on Tuesday.

“As we reimagine what a post-COVID world would look like, these funds will help us respond to the crisis, recover from its aftermath, and protect children from its knock-on effects”, explained the UNICEF chief.

The estimate of the 6,000 additional deaths from preventable causes over the next six months, is based on an analysis by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, published on Wednesday in the Lancet Global Health Journal.

UNICEF said it was based on the worst of three scenarios analyzing 118 low and middle-income countries, estimating that an additional 1.2 million deaths could occur in just the next six months, due to reductions in routine health coverage, and an increase in so-called child wasting.

Around 56,700 more maternal deaths could also occur in just six months, in addition to the 144,000 likely deaths across the same group of countries.

The worst case scenario, of children dying before their fifth birthdays, would represent an increase "for the first time in decades" said Ms. Fore. "We must not let mothers and children become collatoral damage in the fight against the virus. And we must not let decades of progress on reducing preventable child and maternal deaths, be lost."


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