More than five million children orphaned by COVID-19: research

More than 5.2 million children around the world have lost a parent or guardian to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with three-quarters of those children losing a father and more than half of the total loss. occurring over a 6-month period in 2021, a new study finds.

The modeling study published last week by the health journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent also found that the number of children affected by the loss of a caregiver nearly doubled between May 1, 2021. to October 31, 2021, compared to the previous 14 months. A primary caregiver is defined as a parent or one or both custodial grandparents. Secondary caregivers include grandparents or relatives living with the child.

The researchers looked at excess mortality and fertility data from 21 countries and extrapolated the data. They estimate that nearly two out of three children who lose a parent or caregiver – about 2.1 million – are between the ages of 10 and 17. Another half a million children are 4 years old or younger, while 740,000 children from 5 years old and under. ripe. In every age group and region studied, more children lost a father than a mother, consistent with data showing that COVID-19 has a higher mortality rate in men than in women.

The study, which analyzed data from March 1, 2020 to October 31, 2021, found that the number of children under the age of 18 affected by the death of a parent or caregiver due to the novel coronavirus exceeds the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19. The study’s authors also believe that the estimates may be much lower than the actual numbers.

“It took 10 years for 5 million children to be orphaned by HIV/AIDS, while the same number of children were orphaned by COVID-19 in just two years,” said senior author Lorraine Sherr, a professor at University College London. know in a statement, adding that the figures do not take into account the Omicron variation.

The article notes that the World Health Organization’s new mortality estimates show that countries in Africa have under-reported COVID-19 mortality by a factor of 10.

“Therefore, the real-time global minimum estimate for the number of children affected by COVID-19-related orphan and caregiver deaths has reached more than 6 7 million children as of today. January 15, 2022, after adjusting for this underreporting,” the newspaper said.

The researchers found significant disparities in the total number of orphans across the countries studied, with Germany having the least number of orphans and India seeing the most. . Peru and South Africa have the highest estimated orphan rates with 8.3 cases per 1,000 children in Peru and 7.2 cases in South Africa.

The data also shows that an increase in orphans is tied to an increase in cases, which the researchers say is crucial for accelerating access to vaccines to protect children in hard-hit areas. but it is also these regions that have the lowest vaccination rates.

In addition to grief, the article notes the lasting impact of losing a parent or caregiver. Children can also experience inadequate care, mood swings from surviving parents, food and housing insecurity, as well as broken families, the authors write, emphasizes the need for immediate and ongoing support for affected children.

Adolescents face post-orphanage risks…including sexual violence, exploitation, HIV transmission, suicide, child labor, teenage pregnancy, separation, the study writes: from families, poor households and have to drop out of school to take care of children”.

Lead author Dr. Susan Hillis, who was with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while this study was being carried out, said in a statement that all national COVID-19 response plans should include support for orphans, prioritizing mortality prevention through equitable access to vaccines, ongoing support for affected children, and reducing the risk of poverty and childhood challenges. their other children.

However, there are some limitations to the study, including the fact that it is not possible to accurately measure the actual number of children affected by the death of a parent or caregiver due to varying degrees of mortality. quality in different countries’ reporting systems, the researchers said. They recommend a system that can better track these deaths for future pandemic response to more quickly respond to children’s needs.

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