The Unicef notes that around 0.8 million children aged 5 or below could die over the next 12 months as they fall through the gaps in healthcare access—whether it is in routine immunisation or health services.
Even though believed to have largely been spared the Covid-19’s worst manifestations in the body, children will nevertheless be amongst those who have to face some of the worst indirect suffering from the pandemic. Unicef estimates that over 120 million children in South Asia now run the risk of being pushed into multi-dimensional poverty by the pandemic—in 2016, there were some 240 million already facing such crushing poverty. The effect of the pandemic on the economy, livelihoods, healthcare, education and other areas has a bearing not only on the children’s current poverty risk, but also increases their risk of future poverty.
The Unicef notes that around 0.8 million children aged 5 or below could die over the next 12 months as they fall through the gaps in healthcare access—whether it is in routine immunisation or health services. The bulk of these deaths would be in India and Pakistan. The organisation also highlights the inequality in accessing education post-lockdown. For instance, in India, the lockdown has affected 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary education—Ficci estimates nearly more than half of the school-going population is enrolled in government schools, indicating weak economic background of the students—and around 28 million children attending pre-schooling at the anganwadi centres. Measures such as cash transfers aimed at the most vulnerable people, especially children, elderly people and persons with disabilities, may help take care of basic needs, but delivering education to each child will pose a daunting challenge. An analysis carried across five nations in the South Asian region shows that income support amounting to 2% of the GDP for six months will provide the population an average of 18-46% of their pre-Covid expenditures.