The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as war and crises, have set back efforts to improve the health and well-being of women and children, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported on Tuesday.
According to WHO data presented at the World Health Summit in Berlin, hunger and poverty have risen, and there are clear signs of an increase in underage marriage, domestic violence, and depression and anxiety among adolescents,
Some 21 million children worldwide were not adequately vaccinated in 2021, 6 million more than in 2019, before the pandemic erupted.
In Africa, which the WHO had declared polio-free in 2020, the first cases were already reappearing this year.
“Although children and adolescents are less likely to experience severe health consequences from SARS-COV-2 infection compared with adults, multiple years of education, health, nutrition and social service disruptions have impacted and will continue to impact their lives,’’ the UN agency said.
The report said in 2021, 150 million more people went hungry than in 2019.
In the poorest countries, malnutrition rose from eight per cent in 2019 to 9.8 per cent in 2021.
The WHO said the world is not on track to meet the UN’s 2030 development goals, which have clear targets for health, nutrition and education, among others.
To achieve this, he said, basic health care must be improved, even in the most remote regions and conflict areas.
Women and girls in particular needed better educational opportunities to also learn more about health, healthy eating, fitness and pregnancy.
Water and sanitation supplies and food security need to be improved in many places.