4. Health systems are on the brink of collapse.
Unlike India, some of the latest countries to see an outbreak do not have the same number of health clinics or doctors to respond to a crisis of this scale. The Maldives, for example, is a tiny island nation battling the highest number of daily cases per million people in the world.
“It's health system is under severe strain,” says Paul Rutter, Regional Adviser, Maternal and Child Health, UNICEF South Asia. “80 per cent of COVID-19 treatment facilities in the capital are already occupied.”
5. It’s not just those with COVID-19 at risk.
As with any national emergency, it is also those in desperate need of other emergency health care who suffer.
“As resources are diverted and services become saturated, the essential health services that children and mothers so heavily rely on – including routine immunisation services, treatment for diseases like pneumonia and malnutrition and prenatal care for pregnant women - are once more at risk of being compromised, if not shuttered entirely,” says Mr Rutter.
Recent estimates suggest that in 2020, 228,000 children under 5 and 11,000 mothers died due to disruptions to essential health care services in South Asia.
6. Children are in danger.
“As COVID-19 cases have increased, the direct impact on children in contracting the virus has also increased,” says Mr Rutter. “Fortunately, most cases of COVID-19 in children are mild.”
As UNICEF closely watches the growing number of children getting COVID-19, we are also concerned about the secondary impacts on their physical and mental wellbeing. In this surge, we are seeing entire households falling ill, meaning some children are losing entire networks of parents and caregivers.
This not only endangers their own health, but also exposes them to neglect and abuse.