Over 125,000 babies will be born in Kyrgyzstan under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic
With 116 million expected births worldwide in the approximately 9 months since the COVID-19 pandemic was recognized, UNICEF calls on governments and donors to maintain lifesaving services for pregnant women and newborns
Bishkek, 17 May 2020 - An estimated 125,453 babies will be born in Kyrgyzstan under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, estimates UNICEF as families celebrate Mother's Day today. These babies are projected to be born up to 40 weeks after COVID-19 was recognized as a pandemic on March 11. The pandemic is currently straining health systems and medical supply chains all over the world.
New mothers and newborns will be greeted by harsh realities, including containment measures such as isolation, lockdowns and curfews.
“Thousands of mothers in Kyrgyzstan are joining a journey of parenthood in a world totally different from the one we knew just few months ago. Today’s babies are born in a world in crisis due to COVID-19. As we celebrate Mother’s Day today, our thoughts turn particularly to these women, giving life in such a difficult time. For our part, we will continue to support the Ministry of Health to make sure that every pregnant mother and every newborn receives the care they need so both mothers and babies can be safe and in good health”, said Christine Jaulmes, UNICEF Representative in Kyrgyzstan.
UNICEF would like to acknowledge the fact that on 29 April, the Government of Kyrgyzstan, along with 168 other countries, supported the “Protect our Children” appeal from the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, calling on countries to prioritize children’s education, nutrition, health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of support to the appeal, the Government of Kyrgyzstan also welcomed the UNICEF Agenda for Action, which aims at protecting the most vulnerable children, keeping them healthy, safe and learning.
UNICEF will continue to support the Government of Kyrgyzstan to ensure all women have access to adequate antenatal, delivery and postnatal services. Likewise, newborns need to benefit from adequate neonatal services, including emergency care when necessary. New families require support to start breastfeeding, and to get medicines, vaccines and nutrition to keep their babies healthy. UNICEF recommends that all pregnant women:
- Follow precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus, closely monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and seek advice from the nearest designated facility if they have concerns or experience symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing;
- Take the same precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection as other people: practice physical distancing and frequent handwashing, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, avoid physical gatherings and, when possible, use online health services;
- Continue breastfeeding their baby even if they are infected or suspect being infected as the virus has not been found in samples of breastmilk. Mothers with COVID-19 should wear a mask when feeding their baby; wash hands before and after touching the baby; and routinely clean and disinfect surfaces;
- Continue to hold the newborn and maintain skin-to-skin contact;
- Ask their midwife or doctor where they feel is the safest place to give birth and have a birth plan in place to reduce anxiety and to ensure they get to the place on time;
- Maintain routine vaccination for the newborns and children as per the recommendations of the medical staff.
- In addition, family members are reminded of the importance to support and take care of pregnant women and newborns.
UNICEF also appeals to the government and health care providers to save lives in the coming months by:
- Continuing to help pregnant women to receive antenatal checkups, skilled delivery care, postnatal care services, and care related to COVID-19 as needed;
- Ensuring health workers are provided with the necessary personal protective equipment and get priority testing;
- Guaranteeing that infection prevention and control measures are in place in health facilities during childbirth and immediately after;
- Allowing health care workers to reach pregnant women and new mothers through home visits, by using mobile health strategies for teleconsultations;
- Allocating resources to lifesaving services and supplies for maternal and child health.
“As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I would like to congratulate every mother in Kyrgyzstan and recognize the increased burden they have to carry in these challenging times. We invite Government, communities and family members to share this responsibility and provide the necessary support to these mothers,” said Christine Jaulmes. “UNICEF will continue to help saving lives by making sure that every pregnant mother receives the care she needs to give birth safely in the months to come.”
Notes to editor
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The analysis was based on data from World Population Prospects 2019 of the UN Population Division. An average full-term pregnancy typically lasts a complete 9 months, or 39 to 40 weeks. For the purposes of this estimate, the number of births for a 40-week period in 2020 was calculated. The 40-week period of March 11 to December 16 is used in this estimate based upon the WHO’s March 11 assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Kyrgyzstan, visit https://www.unicef.org/kyrgyzstan/. For more information about COVID-19, visit https://www.unicef.org/kyrgyzstan/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-what-parents-should-know
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.