Study: Spread of COVID-19 could cause thousands of children to die from preventable diseases

Study: Spread of COVID-19 could cause thousands of children to die from preventable diseases
Posted at 4:58 PM, May 13, 2020

Amid the spread of COVID-19, 6,000 children could die each day worldwide from preventable diseases, according to a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health report released on Wednesday.

The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Global Affairs Canada.

The study indicates that reductions in routine health service coverage levels and an increase in child wasting could cause 1.2 million children to die in the next six months. The dire figure is based on the worst of three scenarios, and specifically looks at health systems in the poorest 118 countries worldwide.

Even in a best-case scenario, the study projects that 253.500 additional child deaths due to preventable diseases would take place over the next six months.

“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. “We must not let mothers and children become collateral damage in the fight against the virus. And we must not let decades of progress on reducing preventable child and maternal deaths be lost.”

The study’s authors said they published these figures to better assist global health officials to allocate resources for children who could potentially suffer from preventable diseases during the spread of the coroanvirus.

“Nonetheless, they show that, if routine health care is disrupted and access to food is decreased (as a result of unavoidable shocks, health system collapse, or intentional choices made in responding to the pandemic), the increase in child and maternal deaths will be devastating,” the study’s authors wrote.

The study indicated that during past epidemics, like the 2014 Ebola outbreak, health systems struggled to maintain routine service.

To read the full report, click here.