Kenya together with other low and middle-income countries has pledged $6.6 billion in an effort to restore crumbling services for women, newborns, children and adolescents.
The countries which include Afghanistan, India, Liberia and Nigeria pledged 32 per cent of the total pledge which is $20.6 billion to protect this group.
An additional $14 billion (68 per cent) is from official development assistance and grants given by Germany, Canada, Sweden, UK, USA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The country pledges increase investment in maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health care and well-being; health systems strengthening; nutrition, food security and social protection programs and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“This funding will ensure women, children and adolescents can access health services and priority social protections throughout the COVID-19 crisis and recovery periods,” says Helen Clark, Chair of PMNCH and former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Recent World Health Organization (WHO) data from 105 countries shows that 90 per cent of countries have experienced disruptions to health services, with low- and middle-income countries reporting the greatest difficulties.
Some of the most frequently disrupted services include those related to immunization services (facility-based services: 61 per cent and outreach facilities: 70 per cent) and family planning and contraception services: 68 per cent.
The maternal mortality ratio has dropped by 38 per cent worldwide between 2000 and 2017.
Still, about 25,000 women were dying every month during and following pregnancy and childbirth, in 2017.
Similarly, while the mortality rate for children under 5 years of age has been cut by 60 per cent since 1990, about 5.2 million children under five were still dying every year from preventable causes before the pandemic.
According to early estimates of the indirect impact of COVID-19 on child and maternal mortality, more than 2 million additional child and maternal deaths are estimated over 12 months (2020-2021) above the pre-pandemic level because of disruptions to essential health and nutrition services.
Adding to the pain of the pandemic itself is a forecast of at least a 5 per cent contraction of the global economy.
Recent forecasts also indicate that global poverty is on the rise for the first time since 1998, with an estimated 47 million women and girls being pushed into extreme poverty.
This will increase the total number of women and girls living in extreme poverty to 435 million, with projections showing that this number will not revert to pre-pandemic levels until 2030.
As of November 2020, 2.8 million children and adolescents have contracted COVID-19 in 87 countries. That is more than 10 per cent of the 25.7 million infections in these countries.
Recent UNESCO data also shows that in April, 1.5 billion students were affected by educational institutions closures in 195 countries this year, leading to loss of school meals and critical impacts on child nutrition.
“The health and well-being of women, children and adolescents are now at great risk, with inequities compounded by narrowing access to essential health services such as antenatal care, skilled assistance at childbirth, postnatal care, immunizations and family planning. Our concern is that resources — insufficient to begin with— are being diverted away to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains Clark.
“These findings show how weak our health systems are at protecting women, newborns, children and adolescents, and how much basic primary health care matters in saving lives and protecting rights,” she adds.
Breakdown of Pledges by Country
- Kenya– $2.2 billion during 2021-2022 for the provision of universal health coverage to guarantee quality and affordable healthcare, with additional funding committed under the post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy for inequality, social cohesion and social protection.
- Liberia– $10.65 million in 2021 to improve the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents, by supporting and building the capacity of health services providers, providing safe and accessible drinking water, sanitation and hygiene as part of the COVID-19 incidence management system, and guaranteeing availability of critical life-saving equipment and medicines to ensure access to quality health care to women, children and adolescents.
- Nigeria– $2.3 billion during 2020-2028 for strategic interventions that protect the reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, adolescent and elderly health and nutrition through access to family planning services; immunization; and nutrition programmes.
- Afghanistan– $176.6 million during 2020-2023 to combat the challenges of COVID-19 and to improve the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents.
- India– $2 billion during 2020-2021 to strengthen all levels of care in response to the pandemic and to ensure essential public health functions with an enhanced focus on women, children and adolescents and the most vulnerable.
- Canada: $2.89 billion during 2019-2024 as global COVID-19 response, placing gender equality and empowerment of women and girls at the centre of this response through investing inequitable and affordable access to testing and vaccine; including strengthening and ring-fencing of $ 937 million as funds for SRHR; new and dedicated funding for prevention of violence against women; and ensuring access to reproductive health commodities and meaningful youth engagement.
- Germany– $5.3 billion bi- and multilateral contributions to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020-2022; including $120 million to ensure globally fair, equitable and transparent access to COVID-19 vaccines; and $210 million to protect the health and rights of women, children and adolescents, by sustaining health systems with a focus on the needs of women and girls in the context of sexual and reproductive health through multi-lateral agencies and Global Financing Facility (GFF).
- Sida (Sweden) – $ 165.67 million additional funds to the COVID-19 crises and allowing for flexibility in existing funding in 2020-21, $ 53 million dedicated for protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights services and promoting gender-responsiveness in the COVID-19 crisis through integrated efforts in health, health system strengthening, and ensuring access to maternity care, contraception and safe abortion care during and after the pandemic.
- United Kingdom– Up to £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) of new funding to tackle the health, humanitarian, and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19; and committed up to £500 million ($665 million) for COVAX, in support of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines during 2020-2021.
- United States of America– $1.3 billion for the global fight against COVID-19 to improve public health education; protect healthcare facilities; and increase lab, surveillance, and rapid-response capacities in more than 100 countries in 2020. This includes delivery of diagnostics and treatment tailored to countries’ needs and measures to ensure safe delivery of essential maternal and child health and nutrition through improved WASH and infection prevention control in healthcare facilities.
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – $1.75 billion during 2020-2021 to support the global COVID-19 response efforts to accelerate the search for effective coronavirus vaccines and treatments to ensure that once available, they can be delivered quickly and affordably. In addition to new response efforts, the foundation will continue its support to protect the health and well-being of women and children, including by strengthening primary healthcare systems and improving the quality of care provided through essential health service.