Panel warns over mother, child deaths on health care neglect


An expectant woman. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The mortality rates for mothers, newborns, young children and adolescents could rise in the next six months due to decline in efficient health services, a global health experts panel has revealed.

The Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman Every Child (IAP) under United Nations Secretary-General has said that groups are losing 20 percent of their health and social services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that is now worsening existing health care challenges.

The panel is projecting 12,200 to 56,700 additional maternal deaths could occur in six months in some lower middle income countries, with increases of 8.3 to 38.6 percent in maternal deaths per month.

These projections also show a potential 253,500 to 1,157 million additional child deaths in the half-year period, with an increase of 9·8 to 44·7 percent in under-five child deaths per month.

This has been attributed to disruptions of the health systems and decreased access to food tied to the existing pandemic.

The report states that there was already around a 20 percent progress lag to achieve the UN’s 2030 targets in reducing mortality rate among women, children and adolescents, pre-Covid-19.

However, the unpreparedness for the pandemic will worsen the existing challenges.

The report states that there has been mass closures of static and mobile reproductive health clinics, scale down of sexual and reproductive health services (including HIV testing and post-abortion care) and widespread reproductive supply shortfalls as factories reduced capacity, ports closed and transport networks were shut.

“The inefficiencies and inequities are now being compounded with resources being diverted from essential health and multi-sectoral services to the pandemic response and retrogressive legislation being pushed through,” the report stated.

The pandemic is said to have led to halt in immunisation campaigns, leaving at least 13.5 million children unprotected against life-threatening diseases globally.

“Especially worrisome are declines in access to life-saving vaccines for children and maternal health services. Immunisation campaigns are being halted and health workers diverted from maternity to Covid-19 units,” said Elizabeth Mason, co-chair of the panel.