Study estimates that 1.5 million children lost their parents or grandparents to Covid-19

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Posted by Maggie Fox, CNN

(CNN) – More than a million children around the world have lost a parent to Covid-19, and a total of 1.5 million have either a parent, grandparent to look after them, or another relative to look after theirs Care was responsible, lost. a new study takes place.

“Covid-19 has caused this urgent crisis that affects children in almost every country,” said Dr. Susan Hillis of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Response Team who worked on the study told CNN.

“For every two Covid-19 deaths, a child faces the death of a parent or a caregiver.”

The team – including researchers from CDC, USAID, the World Bank, University College London and elsewhere – counted deaths in 21 countries, which accounted for more than 76% of all Covid cases. They used methods developed and validated years ago to estimate the number of children worldwide who would have been orphaned by AIDS to predict the number of Covid-19 orphans.

“We estimate that from March 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021, 1,134,000 children worldwide experienced the death of primary caregivers, including at least one parent or custodial grandparent,” they wrote in a Report published in the medical journal Lancet. They also added, “1,562,000 children have experienced the death of at least one primary or secondary caregiver.”

Children who lose a parent or a caregiver are not just stressed out immediately; They are also more likely to suffer from disease, abuse, and poverty more, according to the researchers.

“There are very grave consequences,” said Hillis. “The consequences of all these adversities are often lifelong,” she added.

“Children who lose their caregivers are at greater risk of mental health problems, physical, emotional and sexual violence, and family poverty,” the team wrote. “These negative experiences increase the risk of suicide, teenage pregnancies, infectious diseases including HIV / AIDS and chronic diseases.”

Grandparents are more important than you might initially think, they added. “In the US, 40% of grandparents who live with grandchildren serve as primary caregivers; in the UK, 40% of grandparents regularly look after their grandchildren, ”the researchers write.

Losing a grandparent can be more than just annoying. “The death of the grandparents can also reduce the psychosocial, practical and / or financial support for their grandchildren,” the researchers write in a linked online report. “These types of vulnerabilities often mean that children need alternative or complementary care, such as relatives or foster families.”

But the pandemic has damaged the ability to provide even this less than desirable level of care for children. “However, public health responses to the pandemic, such as home stay orders and restrictions on performing remote child protection assessments, have greatly reduced the capacity of established child protection systems and services to provide much-needed child safety interventions and assistance . “Says the report.

“These 1.5 million children are the tragic, overlooked consequence of the more than 3 million COVID-19-associated deaths as of April 30, 2021,” the researchers added. “Orphans and caregiver deaths are a hidden pandemic resulting from COVID-19-associated deaths.”

What can be done about it? First, the researchers recommend: making Covid-19 vaccines available to everyone as soon as possible, and other ways to prevent infection, including mask use and distancing.

“Once a primary caregiver becomes seriously ill with COVID-19 or a family is seriously affected by other pandemic-related factors, that family should receive a full assessment, including testing, follow-up, and appropriate and assisted quarantine of exposed family members. Family should be assisted in developing a plan become how children could be cared for if their caregiver were to die, “they added.

And societies must provide economic, educational and psychological support to families affected by the pandemic, the report recommends.

Inexpensive services to provide all of this already exist, and there is evidence of what works, the researchers said.

The CNN Wire
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