Early estimates of the indirect effects of the coronavirus pandemic on maternal and child mortality in low- and middle-income countries

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Background

While the coronavirus pandemic will increase mortality due to COVID-19, the indirect effects of the pandemic will likely increase mortality from other diseases. In this study, we estimate the additional maternal and under-five child deaths resulting from weakened health systems and reduced utilization of routine services during the pandemic.

Methods

We modeled three scenarios in which coverage of basic life-saving interventions is reduced to different extents (10% to 50%) and for different durations (3, 6, and 12 months), using assumptions based on emerging reports of the supply-side and demand-side effects of the pandemic. We used the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) to model maternal and under-five child mortality for each scenario in 118 low- and middle-income countries.

Findings

Reductions in coverage of around 15% for 6 months would result in 253,500 additional child deaths and 12,190 additional maternal deaths, while reductions of around 45% for 6 months would result in 1,157,000 additional child deaths and 56,700 additional maternal deaths. This would represent a 9·8% to 44·7% increase in under five child deaths per month, and an 8·3% to 38·6% increase in maternal deaths per
month, across the 118 countries.


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