New Delhi: A new report by the United Nations titled ‘Protect the Promise’, released today (October 18) highlights the devastating effects on the health of children, women and young people, globally because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change in the recent past. Data highlighted in this report show a critical regression in every major measure of childhood well-being, and many key indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It highlights that since the last Every Woman Every Child Progress Report published in 2020, food insecurity, hunger, child marriage, risks from intimate partner violence, and adolescent depression and anxiety have all increased.
Here are some of the important highlights of the UN report:
1. It is estimated that approximately 25 million children were un- or under-vaccinated in 2021, which is 6 million more children than in 2019, which highlights the increase risk children are at in contracting deadly and debilitating diseases.
2. The report also mentions that millions of children missed out on school during the pandemic for more than a year, while approximately 80 per cent of children in 104 countries and territories experienced learning-loss because of school closures.
3. In terms of a personal loss, which had major impact on children’s well-being and overall growth, the report stated that since the start of the global pandemic, approximately 10.5 million children lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19.
4. The report states that more than 45 million children had acute malnutrition in 2020, a life-threatening condition which leaves them vulnerable to death, developmental delays and disease. Moreover, a staggering 149 million children were stunted in 2020. Highlighting the disparity and inequalities, the report stated that three-quarters of these children live in lower-middle-income countries.
5. As per the report, Africa is the only region where the numbers of children affected by stunting increased over the past 20 years, from 54.4 million in 2000 to 61.4 million in 2020.
6. Highlighting the impact of conflicts happening around the world, the report stated that millions of children and their families are experiencing poor physical and mental health from recent humanitarian disasters. In 2021, a record 89.3 million people worldwide were driven from their homes by war, violence, persecution, and human rights abuse.
7. The report also states that a woman in sub-Saharan Africa has around 130 times higher risk of dying from causes relating to pregnancy or childbirth than a woman in Europe or North America. Coverage of antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, and postnatal care is far from reaching all women in low- and middle- income countries, leaving them at elevated risk of death and disability
Commenting on the findings of the report, Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General said,
At the core of our unkept promise is the failure to address the gaping inequities at the root of global crises, from the COVID-19 pandemic to conflicts and the climate emergency. The report describes the impacts of these crises on women, children and adolescents, from maternal mortality to education losses to severe malnutrition.
He further stated that this report provides wide-ranging evidence that children and adolescents face wildly divergent chances of leading a healthy life simply based on where they are born, their exposure to conflict, and the economic circumstances of their families.
UNICEF Executive Catherine Russell says,
The impacts of COVID-19, conflicts, and climate crises have raised the stakes for vulnerable communities, revealing the weaknesses and inequities in health care systems and reversing hard-won progress for women, children, and adolescents. By investing in resilient, inclusive primary health care systems, jumpstarting routine immunisation programmes, and strengthening the health workforce, we can make sure that every woman and every child can access the care they need to survive and thrive.
H.E. Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid, Global Advocate for Every Woman Every Child and President of the Republic of Estonia, 2016-2021 adds,
There is a crisis of inequity that is piling on. In a world where too many children, adolescents and women are dying, equity, empowerment and access are what needs urgent focus.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.