The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned of significant and growing consequences for children as the Covid-19 pandemic lurches toward a second year.
The UN agency made this known in a report, titled, Averting a Lost Covid Generation, which outlines the dire and growing consequences for children as the pandemic drags on.
It revealed that while symptoms among infected children remain mild, infections are rising and the longer-term impact on the education, nutrition, and well-being of an entire generation of children and young people can be life-altering.
‘Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a persistent myth that children are barely affected by the disease. Nothing could be further from the truth’, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.
‘While children can get sick and can spread the disease, this is just the tip of the pandemic iceberg. Disruptions to key services and soaring poverty rates pose the biggest threat to children.
‘The longer the crisis persists, the deeper its impact on children’s education, health, nutrition, and well-being. The future of an entire generation is at risk’.
The report showed that, as of 3 November, in 87 countries with age-disaggregated data, children and adolescents under 20 years of age accounted for one in nine of Covid-19 infections, or 11 percent of the 25.7 million infections reported by these countries.
UNICEF stated that more reliable, age-disaggregated data on infection, deaths, and testing was needed to better understand how the crisis impacts the most vulnerable children and guide the response.
‘While children can transmit the virus to each other and to older age groups, there is strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them’, the report noted.
‘Schools are not the main driver of community transmission, and children are more likely to get the virus outside of school settings’.
To respond to this Covid-19 crisis, UNICEF called on governments and partners to ensure all children learn, including by closing the digital divide; guarantee access to nutrition and health services, and make vaccines affordable and available to every child.
UNICEF also called on governments to support and protect the mental health of children and young people and bring an end to abuse, gender-based violence, and neglect in childhood.
Photo source: UNICEF