Covid could add to 2 million per year stillbirth toll: UN

About two million infants are stillborn every year — one every 16 seconds — the United Nations (UN) declared on Thursday, predicting that the COVID-19 pandemic could add extra 200,000 deaths to the “devastating” toll.

The vast preponderance of stillbirths, 84%, occur in low- and middle-income nations, where necessary neo-natal care could release hundreds of thousands of lives each year, according to a joint report by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank Group.

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Most stillbirths happen due to poor quality healthcare lacking investment in facilities and training of midwives.

Unlike notable declines in recent decades in the global flow of maternal and infant deaths, stillbirths continue stubbornly frequent, particularly during sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

“Losing a child at birth or during pregnancy is a devastating tragedy for a family, one that is often endured quietly, yet all too frequently, around the world,” stated UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore.

“Beyond the loss of life, the psychological and financial costs for women, families, and societies are severe and long-lasting. For many of these mothers, it simply didn’t have to be this way.”

The report suggested that the COVID pandemic could occur in nearly 200,000 extra stillbirths, considering that 50 percent of health assistance are affected in low- and middle-income nations by the COVID-19 response.

Mark Hereward, UNICEF’s associate director for data and analytics, said AFP that infants in many nations would suffer from Covid-19 even if their mothers never contracted the disease.

Hereward said that without urgent action the world will have suffered 20 million more stillbirths by 2030.

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