UNICEF recommends avoiding the possibility of a “lost generation” due to COVID-19 damage.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has published a report demonstrating how, while symptoms among infected children and young people remain mild, infections are increasing and the long-term impact on education, nutrition and the well-being of an entire generation of children and youth can mark one’s life. For this reason, the report calls for ending the myth that children are hardly affected by the disease.
It also highlights that, with the right measures, it is better to have schools open than closed. On the occasion of World Children’s Day, UNICEF has published a report with a strong message, Avoid the Lost Generation of COVID-19.
UNICEF comprehensively describes in that document the serious and growing consequences for children as the pandemic progresses and shows that, while symptoms among infected children remain mild, infections are increasing and the long-term impact on the education, nutrition and well-being of an entire generation of children and youth can be life-altering. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a persistent myth that children are hardly affected by the disease.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “While children can get sick and spread the disease, this is only the tip of the iceberg of the pandemic. Disruptions in key services and rising poverty rates pose the greatest threat to children. The longer the crisis persists, the more profound will be its impact on the education, health, nutrition and well-being of children. The future of an entire generation is at risk,” she added. The report concludes that, as of November 3, in 87 countries with age-disaggregated data, children and adolescents under the age of 20 accounted for one in nine COVID-19 infections, or 11% of the 25.7 million of infections reported by these countries. However, she notes that more reliable data and data on infections, deaths and tests are needed to better understand how the crisis affects the most vulnerable children and guide the response.
While children can transmit the virus to each other and to adults, there is clear evidence that with basic safety measures, the benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them, the report notes. Schools are not the main driver of community transmission, and children are more likely to contract the virus outside of school settings.
DESPITE IT ALL, THEIR HEALTH IS THREATENED
COVID-related disruptions to critical health and social services for children pose the gravest threat to children, the report says. Using new data from UNICEF surveys in 140 countries, it notes that: About a third of the countries analyzed recorded a drop of at least 10% in the coverage of health services such as routine vaccination, outpatient care for childhood infectious diseases, and maternal health services. Fear of infection is a major reason not to go to a medical center.
There is a 40% decrease in the coverage of nutrition services for women and children in 135 countries. As of October 2020, 265 million children were still missing school meals worldwide. More than 250 million children under the age of five could miss out on the benefits of vitamin A supplement programs. 65 countries reported a decrease in home visits by social workers in September 2020, compared to the same period last year. The most alarming data in the report indicates that:
In November 2020, 572 million students were affected by school closures in 30 countries: 33% of students enrolled worldwide.
It is estimated that in a 12-month period two million more children could die in infant deaths and 200,000 more babies would be born dead, with severe interruptions to health services and increased malnutrition.
Another six to seven million children under five will suffer from emaciation or acute malnutrition in 2020, an increase of 14% that will translate to more than 10,000 additional child deaths each month, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Globally, the number of children living in multidimensional poverty – without access to education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation or water – is estimated to have skyrocketed by 15%, or 150 million more children by mid-2020.
For all these reasons, and to respond to this crisis, UNICEF asks governments and other representatives of society to:
1. Ensure that all children continue with their education, including the closing of the digital divide in this principle
2. Ensure access to nutrition and health services, and make vaccines affordable and available to all minors
3. Support and protect the mental health of children and young people and end abuse, gender-based violence and neglect in childhood
4. Increase access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene and address environmental degradation and climate change
5. Reverse the rise in child poverty and ensure an inclusive recovery for all
6. Redouble efforts to protect and support children and their families living in situations of conflict, disaster and displacement “This World Children’s Day, we ask governments, partners and the private sector to listen to children and prioritize their needs,” Fore said. “As we all reimagine the future and look to a post-pandemic world, children must come first.” (Source: UN News Center)
WRITING ASSIGNMENT: “UNICEF Report on the Damage to a Generation from the Impact of COVID”
UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN’S FUND (UNICEF)
UNICEF, also known as the United Nations Children’s Fund, is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. The agency is among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare organizations in the world, with a presence in 192 countries and territories. UNICEF works to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF’s activities include providing immunizations and disease prevention, administering treatment for children and mothers with HIV, enhancing childhood and maternal nutrition, improving sanitation, promoting education, and providing emergency relief in response to disasters.
THE CONCEPTUAL ASSIGNMENT
UNICEF recommends avoiding the possibility of a “lost generation” due to COVID-19 damage. While children can transmit the virus to each other and to adults, there is clear evidence that with basic safety measures, the benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them, says this UNICEF report.
For example, this critique echoes one that began long before COVID — that we can replace teachers with long-distance learning. According to UNICEF, this is not a good idea.
Pick two to three of UNICEF’s recommendations to avoid the possibility of a “lost generation”. Write a speech, article or letter explaining why you agree or disagree with each. Elaborate using UNICEF’s reasoning.