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. – More than a million children around the world have lost a parent to COVID-19, and a total of 1.5 million have lost a parent, a grandparent who helped care for them, or another family member responsible for their care. , according to a new study.
“Covid-19 has created this urgent crisis that affects children in almost every country,” Dr. Susan Hillis, of the covid-19 response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN. USA, who worked on the study.
“For every two deaths from covid-19, a child faces the death of a parent or caregiver,” he said.
The team, including researchers from the CDC, the United States Agency for Development (USAID), the World Bank, University College London and elsewhere, counted deaths in 21 countries that accounted for more than 76% of deaths. all cases of covid-19. They used methods developed and validated years ago to estimate the number of children around the world who would have been orphaned by AIDS to forecast the number of COVID-19 orphans.
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“Globally, from March 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021, we estimate that 1,134,000 children experienced the death of their primary caregivers, including at least one custodial parent or grandparent,” they wrote in a published report. in the Lancet medical journal. Furthermore, they added, “1,562,000 children experienced the death of at least one primary or secondary caregiver.”
The future consequences for children who suffered losses from covid-19
Children who lose a parent or caregiver don’t just get stressed out right away. They are also more likely to suffer from disease, be abused and suffer from poverty, the researchers said.
“There are very serious consequences,” Hillis said. “The consequences of all these adversities usually last a lifetime,” he added.
“Children who lose their primary caregivers are at increased risk for mental health problems, physical, emotional and sexual violence, and family poverty,” the team wrote. “These adverse experiences increase the risk of suicide, adolescent pregnancy, infectious diseases, including HIV / AIDS, and chronic diseases,” he added.
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Grandparents are more important than they might initially seem, they added. “In the US, 40% of grandparents living with grandchildren are their primary caregivers. In the UK, 40% of grandparents provide regular care for grandchildren,” the researchers wrote.
Losing a grandparent can be more than just a disorder. “The death of grandparents can also reduce psychosocial, practical and / or financial support for their grandchildren,” the researchers wrote in a linked online report.
“These types of vulnerabilities often place children in need of alternative or complementary care, such as kinship or parenting,” they highlighted.
Difficulties of attention for children
But the pandemic has damaged the ability to provide even this least desirable level of care for children. However, public health responses to the pandemic, such as stay-at-home orders and the limitations of conducting child protection assessments remotely, have severely reduced the capacity of established child protection systems and services to provide interventions and Much needed child safety support, the report says.
“These 1.5 million children are the tragic overlooked consequence of the more than 3 million deaths associated with covid-19 as of April 30, 2021,” the researchers added. “Orphanage and caregiver deaths are a hidden pandemic as a result of deaths associated with covid-19,” they said.
What to do about it? First, the researchers recommend: get COVID-19 vaccines around the world as quickly as possible and help prevent infections in other ways, including using face masks and distancing.
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“As soon as a primary caregiver becomes seriously ill with COVID-19, or a family is seriously affected by other factors associated with the pandemic, that family should receive a comprehensive assessment that includes testing, tracking, and proper quarantine. Support should be given to the family in developing a plan on how the children could be cared for if their caregiver died, “they added.
Societies should help families affected by the pandemic with financial, educational and mental health support, the report further recommends.
Low-cost services to provide all of this are already available, and there is evidence to support what works, the researchers said.