The United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) has reported that about 950 Nigerian children below the age of five are likely to die daily from avoidable causes after six months as the COVID-19 pandemic affects routine services and threatens to cringe the health system.
Meanwhile, UNICEF predicted that about 6,000 children below the age of five are likely to die daily globally.
The researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health presented the estimate based on an analysis which was freshly published in The Lancet Global Health journal.
UNICEF comments on Lancet report advise that these hindrances could lead to highly destructible increases in both maternal and child deaths.
The analysis further prevent three cases of the potential effect of coronavirus in 118 low- and middle-income countries, Nigeria inclusive. In the worst-case scenario, the estimate shows an additional possibly 173,000 under-five deaths could be seen within six months, due to reduced routine health service coverage levels – as well as the routine vaccinations – and an increase in child wasting.
Taking the Africa most populated country, Nigeria as a case study, there could be potential child death of an additional 475,200 children who would die before their fifth birthday every six months – threatening to oppose a decade of progress in ending preventable under-five child mortality in Nigeria.
Close to 6,800 more maternal deaths from Nigerians could occur within six months.
According to the UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, “Under a worst-case scenario, the global number of children dying before their fifth birthdays could increase for the first time in decades. We must not let mothers and children become collateral damage in the fight against the virus.”
However, UNICEF Nigeria’s Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, said, “We have made steady progress in reducing preventable child and maternal deaths in Nigeria over the last 20 years – and it would be devastating if that progress is lost or reversed – devasting for Nigerian families, communities and the country as a whole.”
The under-five mortality rate has reduced gradually over the past 20 years in Nigeria – from 213 deaths per thousand in 1990 to 120 today. This is as a result of improved access and coverage of critical life-saving interventions at primary health care and community levels and improved immunisation rates.
Unfortunately, countries like Nigeria with poor and weak health systems, COVID-19 is causing effect in medical supply chains and crushing financial and human resources. Visits to health care centres are reducing due to lockdowns, curfews and transport disruptions, and as communities remain fearful of infection.
Bangladesh, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania are the 10 countries that could potentially have the largest number of additional child deaths according to the modeling, and assuming reductions in coverage in the worst-case scenario.
Djibouti, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Somalia are the 10 countries that are most likely to experience the highest excess child mortality rates under the worst-case scenario.
Peter Hawkins said, “The estimates in this new study show that if, for whatever reason, routine health care is disrupted, the increase in child and maternal deaths will be devastating,”.
“What this study also shows is the critical importance of continuing to provide of life-saving services during these challenging times. We need to continue to deliver children into a safe pair of hands at a well-equipped clinic; we need to continue to ensure newborns receive their essential vaccinations and have their births registered; and we need to continue to ensure children get the essential nutrition they need to survive and thrive beyond their first day and throughout their childhoods.”