Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, global progress towards the 2030 Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health targets to save the lives of women and children was already lagging by around 20%.
Now, the global pandemic is making a bad situation even worse, as some countries divert resources away from essential services.
The direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 response on pregnant women, newborn babies, young children, and adolescents are huge. In many places, essential health services for these populations, as well as social and financial support, have been insufficient.
There have been mass closures of sexual and reproductive health services, including HIV testing and post-abortion care, and supply shortfalls, including for contraceptives.
Constraints in accessing maternal health services during lockdowns are compounded by health workers being diverted from maternity services to COVID-19 units.
Immunisation campaigns have been halted, leaving an estimated 13·5 million children unprotected against life-threatening diseases.
With school closures, 370 million children are missing out on school meals and adolescents are suffering from social isolation and mental health problems. And domestic violence has increased, with many more emergency calls reported in several countries.