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Uldis Kezberis (Latvian Radio)
The new coronavirus pandemic has forced billions of people worldwide to stay home for an extended period of time. As a result, many parents may have to delay vaccination of children, which could lead to the onset of other dangerous infectious diseases, the UN Children's Fund has warned. The authority points out that a pandemic threatens not only the physical but also the mental health of many children. </p><div> <div id="playera34945" class="single-player player-size-large" data-size="large"> <div class="player-controls"> <p> <span class="single-player__name">The coronavirus pandemic limits vaccination in children</span><span class="single-player__copyright">Uldis Kezberis</span><time>00:00 / 03:04</time> </div> </div> More than three billion people in the world are affected by government-imposed restrictions on movement and assembly to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. In the fight against the deadly virus, the most burdensome are the medical staff, who find it increasingly difficult to assist other patients. Many countries already have limited health care provision.
The UN Children’s Fund on Thursday, March 26, warned that staying home to comply with social distance measures and focusing on medical personnel to fight the coronavirus could force parents to refrain from vaccinating their children. The Foundation also allows some countries to postpone mass vaccination campaigns under the pretext of limiting the spread of the new coronavirus.
The Fund is particularly concerned about poor and war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In these countries, vaccination of children is crucial to curb the outbreak of dangerous infectious diseases such as measles, polio and cholera.
The Children’s Fund notes that national restrictions on air traffic and trade have significantly reduced access to essential medicines, including vaccines.
Henrietta Ford, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund, says children are the invisible victims of the coronavirus pandemic. “We are concerned that not all of them have access to water and soap. You know that hand washing with soap is critical in the fight against Covid-19. But did you know that 40% or three billion of the world’s population have no place to wash their hands at home? We are concerned about children’s education. More than 80% of the world’s students are currently out of school due to the closure of educational institutions in 156 countries. Most of these children are likely to return to school when the situation improves. However, we know from experience that the most vulnerable children will not return to school if they stay home longer. At this time, the mental health of children is crucial. Children do not experience some of the best moments of their early lives – talking with friends, going to class, and exercising. We know that it can cause anxiety in children and change their behavior, ”says Forda.
The World Health Organization reports that in 2019, 86% of children received vaccines that will protect them against infectious diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles. Immunization prevents the death of about three million people each year. Unfortunately, about one and a half million people still die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.