UNICEF: Pakistan is expected to record five million births in the nine months, following the declaration of the COVID-19 illness (in March) as a full scale pandemic.
World Health Organisation (WHO) classified the coronavirus as a pandemic back in March. On May 6th, just ahead of Mother’s Day (10th May), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a report which revealed the projection of the birth count during 40-week period between March 11 and December 16.
The released report estimated that about 116 million babies will be born in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. The concerning fact is that almost a quarter of the total projection i.e. about 29 million will be born in South Asia. From the region, Pakistan is just behind India in the competition for the highest projected count, with a whopping 5 million birth count.
India took the first place, with an estimated 20.1 million pregnancies and new births after the pandemic’s outbreak in the country. Pakistan followed India, with Bangladesh right behind with 2.4 million projected births. Afghanistan is expected to have a birth count of 1 million.
Other countries are also expecting a high birth count, with the highest projected numbers during this period being 13.5 million (China), 6.4 million (Nigeria), 4 million (Indonesia) and 3.3 million (United States). UNICEF reported;
“Most of these countries had high neonatal mortality rates even before the pandemic and may see these levels increase with COVID-19 conditions.”
Warning Issued By UNICEF
UNICEF said that the current lockdowns imposed by governments all over the world could create problems in this situation. The UN agency warned that pregnant mothers and babies born amidst the coronavirus outbreak were bound to be threatened by “strained health systems and disruptions in services” across the world. The agency added that this could put the lives of mothers and their newborns at risk. Henrietta Fore, the Executive Director of UNICEF, said;
“New mothers and newborns will be greeted by harsh realities. Millions of mothers all over the world embarked on a journey of parenthood in the world as it was. They now must prepare to bring a life into the world as it has become – a world where expecting mothers are afraid to go to health centres for fear of getting infected, or missing out on emergency care due to strained health services and lockdowns. This is a particularly poignant Mother’s Day, as many families have been forced apart during the coronavirus pandemic. It is hard to imagine how much the pandemic has recast motherhood.”
To help all the to-be mothers in this crisis, UNICEF has called to maintain health and related services for women and newborns amid coronavirus lockdown.