In the nine months after the COVID-19 outbreak was called a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 29 million babies will be born in South Asia. 5 million births are predicted in Pakistan. This is as per a report released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
On May 6th, this report was released that predicted that around 116 million babies will be born across the world in the 40-week period between 11th March and 16th December. Almost a quarter of them will be in South Asia.
It is expected that India will report, highest 20 million births in the region during this period followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh (2.4 million) and Afghanistan (one million), as per the report.
Furthermore, the report warned that the measures taken during lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus may lead to disruptions in life-saving health services “putting millions of pregnant mothers and their babies at great risk”.
The report said, “The continuing rapid spread of Covid-19 across South Asia means new mothers and newborns will be greeted by harsh realities, including global containment measures such as lockdowns and curfews, health centers overwhelmed with response efforts, supply and equipment shortages, and a lack of sufficient skilled birth attendants as health workers […] are redeployed to treat Covid-19 patients.”
Unicef cautions that although evidence suggests that pregnant mothers are not more affected by Covid-19 than others, countries need to ensure they still have access to antenatal, delivery, and post-natal services.
“Likewise, sick newborns need emergency services as they are at high risk of death. New families require care to ensure the health and well-being of mothers, support to start breastfeeding, and to get medicines, vaccines, and nutrition to keep their babies healthy.”