Health

Women and children are losing health and social services during COVID-19

The pandemic is limiting contraceptives, vaccines, and menstrual hygiene access.

Source: SFH Namibia / Flickr

Source: SFH Namibia / Flickr

Experts warned the COVID-19 pandemic would impact women and children the most, and now the data is here to prove it.

The United Nations’ Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) published a report on Monday that found mothers, infants, children, and adolescents are losing 20% of their health and social services due to the pandemic, according to Forbes.

Researchers analyzed data from several studies and surveys since January to assess COVID-19’s impact on mothers and children. Studies showed that women and children are losing support and cannot seek out additional assistance compared to men.

“This pandemic is a big leveler because everybody's at risk, “ Elizabeth Mason, co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s IAP, told Global Citizen. “But actually we've seen as the epidemic goes on, not only is it the elderly, but it's also the poorer and the ethnic minorities who are more at risk — and then also the effects on women, children, and adolescents are greatest.”

The report analyzed the relationship between income and maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, and under-5 mortality in 193 countries. Researchers found that women, children, and adolescents in countries with similar economic means experienced different health outcomes. People of color in the wealthiest countries had the largest disparities in disease and death.

IAP examined how the pandemic is impacting women and children’s health in various areas of their lives.

In one survey conducted in 30 countries, 73% of health workers said they lacked access to sanitary products, 58% noticed an increase in sanitary product prices, and 50% reported not having clean water to manage menstruation.

The report pointed out that limited health care is not the only impact of the pandemic that is impacting women and children.

The pandemic could contribute to more than 1.5 million additional child deaths in six months, with a 9.8% to 44.7% increase in deaths of children under 5. But the combination of increased food insecurity and the disruptions of health systems in poor and wealthy countries alike could cause over 56,000 additional deaths in six months —a 38.6% monthly increase.

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