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UNICEF warns COVID-19 may kill 171,000 Nigerian children

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… 950 could die daily

NO FEWER than 171,000 children may die in Nigeria due to COVID-19 disruption in routine medical services and threats to an already weakened health care system in the country.

  The alarm was raised by United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in a report released yesterday.

  According to UNICEF, over 950 Nigerian children will die daily in next six months together with about 6,800 more maternal deaths from preventable causes as the disrupts routine services and threatens to weaken the health system.

  The estimate is based on an analysis by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to the Lancet report.

  Speaking on the development, UNICEF Nigeria’s Country Representative, Peter Hawkins said the analysis offers three scenarios of the potential impact of COVID-19 in 118 countries, including Nigeria.

  In his own explanation, UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore stated that the analysis offers three scenarios of the potential impact of COVID-19 in 118 low – and middle-income countries, including Nigeria.

In the worst-case scenario, the estimate is that an additional nearly 173,000 under-five deaths could occur in just six months, due to reductions in routine health service coverage levels – including routine vaccinations – and an increase in child wasting.

  According to her, these potential child deaths would be in addition to the 475,200 children who already die before their fifth birthday every six months – threatening to reverse a decade of progress in ending preventable under-five child mortality in Nigeria. About 6,800 more Nigerian maternal deaths could also occur in just six months.

  “We have made steady progress in reducing preventable child and maternal deaths in Nigeria over the last 20 years – and it would be devastating if that progress is lost or reversed. Under a worst-case scenario, the global number of children dying before their fifth birthdays could increase for the first time in decades.

We must not let mothers and children become collateral damage in the fight against the virus. We have made steady progress in reducing preventable child and maternal deaths in Nigeria over the last 20 years – and it would be devastating if that progress is lost or reversed – devastating for Nigerian families, communities and for the country as a whole,” she said.

  UNICEF predicted that the 10 countries most likely to witness the highest excess child mortality rates under the worst-case scenario are: Djibouti, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Somalia.

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