The coronavirus pandemic, that has forced billions of people across the globe to stay home, is making parents skip routine immunisations for their kids, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF warned on Thursday.
- UNICEF says coronavirus outbreak making parents skip routine immunisations
- Pakistan and other impoverished countries are of particular concern
- Pakistan has more than 1100 Covid-19 patients, has sought funds from IMF, World Bank
Of particular concern are impoverished and war-torn countries battling measles, cholera or polio outbreaks, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Philippines, Syria and South Sudan.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries where polio remains endemic.
Even before the coronavirus crisis Pakistan was struggling to vaccinate kids as local populations viewed inoculation teams with suspicion.
Opposition grew after the CIA organised a fake vaccination drive to help track down Al-Qaeda’s former leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.
Vaccine alliance GAVI, which is making funding available for lower-income countries to respond to the coronavirus crisis, also called for routine immunisations to continue.
“We cannot have two global outbreaks on our hands,” GAVI chair Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in a statement on Thursday.
Pakistan has, meanwhile, sought US $3.7 billion additional loan from three multilateral creditors to cope with the economic crisis being posed by the coronavirus outbreak, as the pandemic spread further in the country, infecting over 1,100 people and killing nine so far.
In addition to US $1.4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will extend loans of US $1 billion and US $1.25 billion respectively to the country, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier announced a Rs 1.2 trillion economic relief package.
Slight improvement was seen in worst-hit Sindh as the number of new cases slowed but it was increasing in Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and federal capital areas. Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said 12 more coronavirus cases were reported, taking the total provincial tally to 131.