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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 9, 2020 (Healthday News) -- The coronavirus pandemic threatens decades of progress in reducing preventable deaths in children worldwide, a new United Nations/ World Bank paper warns.
It said that preventable deaths in children under 5 fell from 12.5 million in 1990 to just over 5 million in 2019, the lowest number on record, CNN reported.
But fewer resources and fears about contracting COVID-19 during pandemic could reverse gains in child and maternal healthcare services and put millions of lives at risk, according to the paper.
A UNICEF survey of 77 countries over the summer found that 68% had disruptions in childhood checkups and vaccinations, and a WHO survey of 105 countries found that 52% had interruptions in medical services for sick kids and 51% had disruptions in malnutrition programs, CNN reported.
"We must not let the COVID-19 pandemic turn back remarkable progress for our children and future generations," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
"The global community has come too far towards eliminating preventable child deaths to allow the COVID-19 pandemic to stop us in our tracks," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a news release, CNN reported.
"When children are denied access to health services because the system is overrun, and when women are afraid to give birth at the hospital for fear of infection, they, too, may become casualties of COVID-19," she said.
"Without urgent investments to re-start disrupted health systems and services, millions of children under five, especially newborns, could die," Fore warned.
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