It’s heart breaking to see the impact COVID-19 is having around the world. The virus caught the world unprepared and is affecting every aspect of our lives. As countries are brought to a standstill and the death toll rises, we are concerned about the effect this will have on the most vulnerable children – those living through conflict or suffering from other conditions such as malnutrition or pneumonia. This is an unprecedented challenge and we need to act now.
Research by Imperial College indicates that if the world acts fast, we will see around 800,000 deaths as a result of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Further delay could lead to 2.4 million deaths in Africa alone – as well as devastating social and economic impacts.
The impact on children
In every single country and community, COVID-19 is turning children’s lives upside down. According to UNESCO, over 1.5 billion children are not learning due to school closures in more than 180 countries. Some children may lose one or both their parents to COVID-19 and children’s wellbeing will be seriously affected as they’re made to stay at home and see their families struggle financially.
This crisis will hit the most vulnerable children, like refugees and those living in conflict, hardest. Preventive measures such as social distancing are difficult, if not impossible, in refugee shelters and city slums due to cramped, poorly ventilated shelters. Hygiene practices like simple handwashing are also extremely challenging when clean water sources, soap and hand sanitiser are scarce.
Save the Children’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Save the Children is determined to help curb the outbreak of COVID-19. We have a global network of health experts with the skills and experience needed to deal with complex health challenges in the world’s most difficult contexts. We have experience of responding to deadly outbreaks of Yellow Fever, cholera, measles and the Ebola virus.
Our global health teams are working with the World Health Organisation and other partners on preparedness activities across many of our country offices. Our teams are also doing everything they can to keep children and our staff safe and healthy in our programmes, including rigorous infection prevention measures. Wherever we work – in schools, refugee camps, or health clinics – our priority is to ensure the safety of children, and we’ll adapt our programmes to meet the changing nature of the outbreak.
“We want to make sure we can keep our essential programmes going – whether that means strengthening infection prevention control in a child friendly space, making sure health facilities have the right supplies they need in case a coronavirus patient comes in, or making sure that we think about innovative ways to deliver education in emergencies if people are quarantined.”
– Senior Humanitarian Health Lead, Dr Louisa Baxter.