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Unicef: 2.4m babies to be born during Covid-19 pandemic in Bangladesh

  • Published at 06:29 pm May 7th, 2020
baby babies new born child basket hospital
File photo Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh ranks at number 9 in terms of the highest expected number of births during this period

United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund(Unicef)has predicted that some 2.4 million babies will be born under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic in Bangladesh.

Globally, the number is 116 million. These babies are projected to be born up to 40 weeks after Covid-19 was recognized as a pandemic on March 11.

Bangladesh ranks at number 9 in terms of the highest expected number of births during this period.

Even though there is no significant change in the maternal mortality ratio and neonatal mortality rate, an analysis of data in the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) dashboard shows that since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, there is a significant reduction in the uptake of maternal and new born health services at the health facilities.

Only 33 district hospitals in Bangladesh are performing all key functions of emergency obstetric care out of 63, the press release read.

TomooHozumi, UNICEF Country Representative in Bangladesh said: “Despite the pressure on the health system due to Covid-19 situation, routine lifesaving services for the pregnant mothers and newborn babies need to continue with proper infection prevention and control measures."

“Unicefis working with the Government of Bangladesh to save lives by ensuring that pregnant mothers and sick newborn babies receive the required care in the months to come,” he added.

Globally, Unicefwarns that although evidence suggests that pregnant mothers are not more affected by Covid-19 than others, countries need to ensure they still have access to antenatal, delivery, and postnatal services.

Countries with the expected highest numbers of births for the period of 9 months from the date of the pandemic declaration (11 March) are – India (20.1 million), China (13.5 million), Nigeria (6.4 million), Pakistan (5 million), and Indonesia (4 million).

Most of these countries had high neonatal mortality rates even before the pandemic and may see these levels increase with Covid-19 conditions.

“Millions of mothers now must prepare to bring a life into the world as it has become – a world where expecting mothers are afraid to go to the health centres for fear of getting infected, or missing out on emergency care due to strained health services and lockdowns,” said Henrietta Fore, Unicefexecutive director(ED).

“It is hard to imagine how much the coronavirus pandemic has recast motherhood,” the ED added.

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