How COVID-19 threatens the futures of 600 million South Asian children
The lives and futures of children across South Asia are being torn apart by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. While they may be less susceptible to the virus itself, children are being profoundly affected by the fallout, including the economic and social consequences of the lockdown and other measures taken to counter the pandemic. Decades of progress on children’s health, education and other priorities risk being wiped out. Yet the crisis has also presented opportunities to expose and tackle some of the longstanding challenges facing children in the region, especially those from the most vulnerable communities.
With the pandemic expanding rapidly across a region that contains a quarter of the world’s population, UNICEF's Lives Upended report describes the disastrous immediate and longer-term consequences that the virus and the measures to curb it have had on 600 million children and the services they depend on. The report highlights the importance of tackling critical child-related issues exposed by COVID-19 including:
- Providing community health workers and other social services staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) to enable them to do their work safely.
- Scaling up of low-tech home learning solutions (for example, using a combination of paper and mobile phone-based materials) especially for vulnerable groups such as girls, children living in remote areas and urban slums, and children with disabilities.
- Addressing the widescale need for water supply, toilets and hygiene services in schools and health care facilities.
- Working with religious leaders and other partners to address the myths and hate-speech that the pandemic has given rise to.