PANAMA CITY / NEW YORK, September 28, 2020. Maintaining essential health services while mitigating the impact of the pandemic represents an unprecedented challenge for the region and, if left unaddressed, could mean significant regressions in the health of women and children. This was revealed by the study Challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the health of women, children, and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean presented today by the regional offices of the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF and the United Nations Development Program, UNDP.
COVID-19 threatens the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s Goals to reduce maternal, neonatal, and under-5 mortality and guarantee universal access to sexual and reproductive health services. A 10% reduction in essential maternal and child health services as a consequence of the pandemic could cause 28,000 maternal deaths and 168,000 neonatal deaths additional per year in the region.
On the other hand, increased food insecurity could lead to malnutrition in pregnant women, micronutrient deficiencies during pregnancy, intrauterine growth retardation, small for gestational age, acute and chronic malnutrition, and other forms of malnutrition during childhood, which in turn increase the risk of death from infectious diseases.
Current circumstances have caused a reduction in the demand for vaccination services in half of the 38 countries in the region that reported information to PAHO in June 2020. At least 18 countries have reported difficulties in obtaining vaccines and supplies such as syringes, mainly due to limitations in transportation and the closure of borders.
The report emphasizes the need to restore essential health services, strengthen the primary care strategy, and increase public spending on health. It highlights that public policies should be established with a gender perspective since the deprivations and needs of women, particularly if they are in charge of children, the elderly, or people with disabilities, or if they suffer violence by their partners, require a particular prioritization.
This report is available here.
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