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COVID-19 deaths cause global rise in orphans

Wednesday July 21st 2021

A million children around the world have lost one or both parents to COVID-19, according to a study published today.

The work, carried out by Dr Susan Hillis and others at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used mortality figures from March 2020 to April 2021, from 21 countries.

In The Lancet they report that a further 100,000 children have lost a custodial grandparent, and more than 400,000 have lost another secondary familial caregiver.

They explain that this report gives the first global estimates of its kind. They want urgent investment in necessary services for these children, as these children are at risk of "profound short- and long-term adverse effects on their health, safety, and wellbeing".

“For every two COVID-19 deaths worldwide, one child is left behind to face the death of a parent or caregiver," says Dr Hillis. "By April 30, 2021, these 1.5 million children had become the tragic overlooked consequence of the three million COVID-19 deaths worldwide, and this number will only increase as the pandemic progresses.

"Our findings highlight the urgent need to prioritise these children and invest in evidence-based programs and services to protect and support them right now and to continue to support them for many years into the future – because orphanhood does not go away.”

Co-author Professor Lucie Cluver, of Oxford University, UK adds: “We have strong evidence from HIV and Ebola to guide solutions. We need to support extended families or foster families to care for children, with cost-effective economic strengthening, parenting programs, and school access."

Hillis, S. D. et al. Global minimum estimates of children affected by COVID-19-associated orphanhood and deaths of caregivers: a modelling study. Lancet 21 July 2021 doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01253-8

[abstract]

Tags: Child Health | Flu & Viruses | North America | World Health

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