The UNICEF appeal coincides with the release of UN research suggesting that the recession caused by COVID-19 could cause hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths this year.
Responding to the findings – which would reverse gains in reducing infant mortality – UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for urgent action to protect youngsters’ wellbeing.
Even before the pandemic, childhood malnutrition and stunting were at unacceptable levels, he said.
Now, with classrooms closed almost everywhere, nearly 310 million children who rely on school meals are missing out on this daily dose of nutrition.
Children are both victims and witnesses of domestic violence and abuse. With schools closed, an important early warning mechanism is missing, the UN chief explained.
“Reduced household income will force poor families to cut back on essential health and food expenditures, particularly affecting children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers…And as health services become overwhelmed, sick children are less able to access care. With the global recession gathering pace, there could be hundreds of thousands additional child deaths in 2020.”
In addition to the suspension of polio vaccination campaigns, measles immunization has also been halted in at least 23 countries, the UN Secretary-General continued.