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In a statement released on May 12, the UN agency asserted that as many as 6,000 children could die a day over a period of six months, due to the impact of the outbreak on routine health services and medical supplies.
The estimate is based on an analysis by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the agency stated. The potential child deaths under the age of five could be up to 1.2 million, especially in 118 low-and-middle-income countries, due to weak health systems in maternal and child services.
The figures show the reversal of the progress made in preventing child mortality rate over the last few years.
The research also underlines some 56,700 more maternal deaths that could occur in just six months, in addition to the 144,000 deaths that already take place in the same countries over a six-month period.
"Under a worst-case scenario, the global number of children dying before their fifth birthdays could increase for the first time in decades," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in the statement.
The analysis is based on the worst scenarios that could prevail, assuming reductions in health coverage. In the least severe scenario, where the coverage could reduce around 15%, there would be a 9.8% increase in child deaths, (1,400 a day), and an 8.3% increase in maternal deaths.
In the worst scenario, where the coverage could reduce around 45%, there could be a 44.7% increase in child mortality and a jump of 38.6% in maternal deaths a month.
India is one of the ten countries that could face this brunt. The health interventions range from family planning, child delivery, vaccinations and other medical services.
The estimates show that if, for whatever reason, routine health care is disrupted and access to food is decreased, the increase in child and maternal deaths will be devastating, the statement reads.
The UN agency has launched a global campaign called 'Reimagine' to help prevent the COVID-19 pandemic turning into a child rights crisis, especially those affected by poverty, lack of basic healthcare systems, and violence. UNICEF has requested governments, the public, donors and the private sector to join the cause.
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