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