World

Double trouble for women, children amid Covid and rising conflicts

Helen Clark

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. PHOTO | FILE

The impact of Covid-19 and conflicts is threatening progress in health and social services for women, children and adolescents, health advocacy groups have warned.

Global leaders and health advocates, speaking at a virtual summit last week, raised concerns that the pandemic and rising political instability across the world were also driving inequity and deepening the rift between rich and poor.

“Things have got worse for women, children and adolescents on the frontlines,” said Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Ms Clark also chairs the board of Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) — the world’s largest alliance for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and wellbeing.

“These are very tough times. Most certainly there’s a record number of women, children and adolescents in great need of assistance,” she said, pointing at record numbers of refugees and displaced persons around the world.

Health advocates say more than two billion people, including half the world's poorest populations, currently live in humanitarian and fragile settings.

The e-summit dubbed “Lives in the Balance” brought together government officials, policymakers, health care professionals and community leaders to discuss the challenges to protecting the health and wellbeing of women, children and adolescents in the wake of increased instability across the world.

“The African continent is broadly unprepared, with weak health systems in place to deal with the issues that result in humanitarian situations,” said Margaret Agama-Anyetei, African Union’s Acting Director of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development.

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