Health professionals of Central Asia and international experts discuss child and adolescent health during COVID-19
ASHGABAT, 20 August 2020 – The Government of Turkmenistan, with support from the Regional and Country Offices of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), hosted a web conference today on child and adolescent health during the time of COVID-19.
The conference was attended by healthcare professionals of Central Asian countries as well as those from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Germany, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. The aim was to share experiences and discuss the challenges of ensuring adequate healthcare for children during the COVID-19 pandemic in Central Asia.
Health systems in Central Asia are being confronted with a rapidly increasing demand generated by the pandemic. Although current evidence shows that children are not the most affected, they are likely to experience the indirect impacts of COVID-19 – including less frequent visits to health facilities, nutrition insecurity due to reduced financial resources at family level, and jeopardized breast-feeding for children of mothers with COVID-19 infection due to unnecessary separation of mothers and babies. Among the first containment measures taken in many countries in Central Asia were school closures, suspension of some Maternal, Newborn and Child Health services causing delays in receiving time sensitive services, closures of childcare facilities and restrictions on social interactions. Some countries mandated a total lock-down.
UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, said that countries of Central Asia had not been spared by the negative impacts of COVID-19. “Like in many parts of the Region, the pandemic challenges us to protect and save lives,” she said in her opening remarks to the conference. “UNICEF continues to work closely with governments across the sub-region to ensure the availability of critical supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment, oxygen concentrators, and the training of front-line health workers. We are also supporting the resumption of essential health and nutrition services and the development of tools to ensure that information and knowledge is made available for individuals to protect themselves and their families from the disease.”
Ms. Khan opened the conference along with Chary Agamyradov, Deputy Minister of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan and Martin Weber, WHO Regional Child and Adolescent Health Programme Manager.
During the conference, experts in the field of child and adolescent healthcare discussed global, regional and country experiences in providing adequate health care for children during COVID-19. They focused on epidemiology and the clinical management of children with COVID-19; the continuity of essential services, including for children with chronic diseases; the effects of lockdown on children and adolescents; the nutrition aspects in the context of COVID-19 in schools and health facilities; and the transition to normal healthcare services after the pandemic.
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