As per the report titled 'Protect the Progress: Rise, Refocus, Recover, 2020', released by 'Every woman, every child', the fragile gains made in the field of women and children's health is currently threatened by the climate crisis, COVID-19, migration and conflict. 'Every woman, every child' is a global movement to address major health challenges faced by women, children and adolescents launched in 2010 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
In the past decade, before the pandemic, there had been a 50 per cent reduction in child mortality, over 80 per cent cover of immunization and a 35 per cent decline in maternal deaths. 25 million child marriages were prevented and more girls joined and stayed in schools. 15 out of the 17 interventions in improving child and women's health showed either positive change or stayed roughly the same. "However, these improvements are still not evenly distributed across the world, and the significant progress did not reach every woman, nor every child," notes the report.
In 2019, a newborn baby died every 13 seconds, 33 women did not survive childbirth every hour, 7.4 million people under 25 died of preventable causes, 14 million children didn't receive vaccinations, 33000 girls were forced into marriages and 132 million girls dropped out of school. Human rights and in particular sexual and reproductive health and rights are uneven across countries.
The report notes that even the fragile gains made are now under threat due to the Covid-19 pandemic. "The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing vulnerabilities and failures in health, social, political and economic systems that ought to safeguard women, children and adolescents. School closures impacting 1.6 billion children, the growing burden on local health systems for the delivery of primary care, heightened risk of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation amid intensifying containment measures and rising economic pressures are all threatening livelihoods and exacerbating gender inequality," says the report.
Post-pandemic, 50% of countries reported part or major disruption of immunization projects, 13 million additional child marriages, 1157000 additional child deaths, 56700 additional maternal deaths, and 7 million unintended pregnancies.
"As the world addresses the COVID-19 pandemic, we must safeguard decades of progress on maternal and child health and well-being," said Mr António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General and Senior Co-Chair of Every Woman Every Child High-Level Steering Group. "The continuity of essential services and funding for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health must not only be protected from cuts or reallocation as part of national COVID-19 response and recovery efforts but also, prioritized and increased to respond to the immediate and long-term repercussions of the pandemic," added the report.