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30M children at risk from secondary effects of COVID-19: report

World Vision says reduced access to healthcare, decreased immunizations and a rise in malnutrition are major concerns

April 8, 2020  by CM Staff

Merlin Benson and her nine-month-old daughter Sarah, wash their hands after a COVID-19 information session at a World Vision South Sudan nutrition centre in Juba.  PHOTO: World Vision Canada

Aftershocks, a new report released today by World Vision, reveals that COVID-19 will put the lives of millions of children in danger from other diseases and increased food insecurity.

The report analyzes the secondary impacts on children during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak, and models what would happen if they were replicated in the current COVID-19 crisis. Weak health systems could quickly be overwhelmed, putting millions of lives at risk, according to the agency. Aftershocks focuses on these consequences in the 24 most fragile countries covered by the UN’s COVID-19 humanitarian appeal.

“We are wrong if we think this is not a children’s disease,” said World Vision International President and CEO Andrew Morley in a prepared statement. “COVID-19 has become a devastating pandemic, but the secondary impacts will likely be a lot worse for children in fragile contexts.”

World Vision analyzed various impacts including reduced access to healthcare, decreased immunizations and a rise in malnutrition. The report demonstrates that the combination of pre-existing weak health systems, populations with high need, and this current pandemic may lead to mortality for children.

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“The aftershocks will be a far greater threat to children than the disease itself,” said Michael Messenger, president and CEO of World Vision Canada in a prepared statement. “That’s why we’re asking Canada, and all Canadians, to continue to help mitigate the devastating impact this pandemic could have on people living in the margins.”