Weekly Operational Update on COVID-19 (21 March 2021)

Call for maintaining essential health services amid disruptions due to COVID-19 in South Asia

A United Nations report supported by WHO, cites examples of service disruptions including an 80% drop in the number of young children treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in Nepal and Bangladesh, and a sharp drop in childhood immunizations in Pakistan and India as the region battles to contain COVID-19 cases, numbering 11 million by the end of 2020.

COVID-19 - PAHO/WHO Response, Report 46 (8 March 2021) - PAHO/WHO | Pan  American Health Organization

Drastic cuts in the availability and use of essential public health services across South Asia due to COVID-19 may have contributed to an estimated additional 228 000 and 11 000 child and maternal deaths in 2020 respectively. “Maintaining essential health services is an important pillar of WHO’s COVID-19 response strategy,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of the WHO South-East Asia Region. The report calls for prioritizing essential health services for pregnant women, adolescents and young infants.

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Strengthening supply chains for the delivery of vaccines and other essential childhood medicines is also vital.
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