Forget coronavirus, millions of children threatened by other diseases globally

WHO and the UNICEF warned 117 million children might stop receiving measles vaccine as coronavirus spreads globally.

The coronavirus pandemic has caught much attention worldwide, but there are also other infectious diseases killing millions globally, especially the children from impoverished countries in Africa.

The strain on health services in some places has led to the suspension of routine health activities as "everything is devoted to the fight against COVID-19," Robin Nandy, head of UNICEF's immunization service, told AFP.

World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN children's Fund (UNICEF) had previously warned that not less than 117 million children from 37 countries might stop receiving measles vaccine as coronavirus spreads globally.

African child
Two in three children in the Central African Republic need humanitarian assistance UNICEF


Measles immunization campaigns in 24 countries have been delayed so far while the organization expects many campaigns might get postponed in large number of countries. Measles cases had spiked in previous years, claiming more than 140,000 lives in 2018 alone. These deaths could have been prevented if they had access to safe and effective vaccine.

Estimates say that those children younger than 12 months most likely die due to complications driven by measles. If the circulation of this virus doesn't stop it could spike much, warn health experts, reported teleSUR.


At the same time almost 2,500 children die daily due to pneumonia, easily treatable with inexpensive medicines. Studies have shown that almost 800,000 deaths can be prevented annually. Pneumonia being a leading cause of child deaths in Nigeria, fears of coronavirus had started preventing them to access healthcare.

"We see many children coming in with respiratory problems. Both diagnosis and treatment are problematic for us," said Sanjana Bhardwaj, director of Health for UNICEF Nigeria.

Malaria and Ebola

Ebola Virus
Ebola Virus Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to Democratic Republic of Congo, long before the coronavirus pandemic struck, the country suffered from several epidemics. Measles alone has taken 6,000 lives, majorly of children, since the last epidemic in 2019. Malaria has killed almost 13,000 people, posing a threat to infants.

This April, WHO almost tried to announce the end of Ebola epidemic in Congo. But new cases emerged that paused WHO's announcement.

In addition to malnutrition, there are "significant morbidities," affecting children badly, said Alex Mutanganyi, the Congo in-charge in the fight against COVID-19 from the NGO 'Save the Children'


India accounts for one quarter of the global TB cases. It is estimated that the number of new TB cases in 2018 stands at 2,800,000. The coronavirus lockdown stands as major hurdle to TB patients in seeking healthcare. Mutanganyi says novel coronavirus has just increased number of these threats children already face, he said.

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