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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNDER DEVELOPMENT UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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COVID-19 and maternal and child food and nutrition insecurity: a complex syndemic

AUTHOR(S)
Rafael Perez-Escamilla; Kenda Cunningham; Victoria Hall Moran

Published: July 2020   Maternal & Child Nutrition
Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has already led to major increases in unemployment and is expected to lead to unprecedented increases in poverty and food and nutrition insecurity, as well as poor health outcomes. Families where young children, youth, pregnant and lactating women live need to be protected against the ongoing protracted pandemic and the aftershocks that are very likely to follow for years to come. The future wellbeing of the vast majority of the world now depends on reconfiguring the current ineffective food, nutrition, health, and social protection systems to ensure food and nutrition security for all. Because food, nutrition, health, and socio-economic outcomes are intimately inter-linked, it is essential that we find out how to effectively address the need to reconfigure and to provide better intersecoral coordination among global and local food, health care, and social protection systems taking equity and sutainability principles into account. Implementation science research informed by complex adaptive sytems frameworks will be needed to fill in the major knowledge gaps. Not doing so will not only put the development of individuals at further risk, but also negatively impact on the development potential of entire nations and ultimately our planet.
Mitigating the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic Response on At-Risk Children

AUTHOR(S)
Charlene Wong; David Ming; Gary Maslow ; et al.

Published: July 2020   Pediatrics
This research focuses on risks and mitigation strategies for 3 at-risk subpopulations of children: (1) children with behavioral health needs, (2) children in foster care or at risk for maltreatment, and (3) children with medical complexity (CMC). Mitigation strategies delineated for these at-risk populations are also likely beneficial for any child and family. Importantly, children not already in these groups are at risk for facing new medical, behavioral, or social challenges that develop during the pandemic. In particular, children in households of low socioeconomic status are likely at the highest risk for new or worsening issues, underscoring the critical leadership role of Medicaid programs in these risk mitigation strategies.
Gender Inequality and the COVID-19 Crisis: A Human Development Perspective
Published: July 2020   UNDP Report
Across several social, economic, and political dimensions, women and girls are disproportionately affected by the crisis simply because of their sex. The immediate effects of COVID-19 on gender inequality are already showing themselves in health and education, on the burden of unpaid care work and gender-based violence.
While the COVID-19 crisis affects everyone, women and girls face specific and often disproportionate economic, health, and social risks due to deeply entrenched inequalities, social norms, and unequal power relations. Understanding the gender-differentiated impacts of the COVID-19 crisis through sex-disaggregated data is fundamental to designing policy responses that reduce vulnerable conditions and strengthen women's agency, placing gender equality at their centre. This is not just about rectifying long-standing inequalities but also about building a more just and resilient world.
The Secondary Impacts of COVID-19 on Women and Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa

AUTHOR(S)
Tal Rafaeli; Geraldine Hutchinson

Published: June 2020   K4D Helpdesk Report
Based on emerging evidence and lessons from past health crises, there is strong evidence to suggest that women and girls in SSA will suffer from extreme and multifaceted negative secondary impact as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Some of which may include higher poverty rates, increase in unplanned pregnancies, a surge in school dropout rates and child labour of adolescent girls, loss of income and reduced financial empowerment, increased household work, reduced access to healthcare and WASH alongside increased maternal deaths, and greater food insecurity and malnutrition.
Soro Sali, a 39 years old woman is practicing Kangaroo, at the Regional Hospital of Korhogo, in the North of Côte d'Ivoire.
Data to inform the COVID-19 response
Published: June 2020 UNICEF Publication
Timely, disaggregated, and quality data on the situation of children can help identify where the most vulnerable live so that interventions to counteract the potential adverse effects of COVID-19 can be implemented to reach those most in need. UNICEF’s call to protect children, especially the most marginalized, is essential now more than ever and our global databases can inform that response by painting a picture of children around the world. In the face of this unprecedented crisis, where are children especially vulnerable to physical punishment? Are sufficient hygiene facilities available in schools? And is healthcare accessible for children with acute respiratory symptoms? How will the most vulnerable children, such as those living on the street or in refugee camps fare? Data like these can provide guidance for UNICEF and country programmes so that our efforts to mitigate and overcome the effects of the pandemic can be measured.
Migrant and displaced children in the age of COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Danzen You; Naomi Lindt; Rose Allen; et al.

Published: June 2020   Migration Policy Practice

This article examines the socioeconomic challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic poses for children on the move across four dimensions: poverty, survival and health, learning and protection and safety.  It also considers how new laws and regulations enacted in response to the pandemic are impacting these children. It then suggests the necessary policies and actions to protect this intensely vulnerable population. 
Many displaced children will see their family’s income shrink or disappear and, globally, poverty levels are expected to worsen. Vulnerable populations are predicted to disproportionately bear the brunt of this economic contraction. Poor health systems and disrupted health services – a reality for many migrant and displaced children – are likely to further weaken, placing children at risk of intensified hardship, both physical and psychological. The crowded conditions and poor access to proper water and sanitation common among families living in displacement pose obvious risks at a time when social distancing and hygiene are so critical.  
Migrant and displaced learners regularly encounter obstacles in accessing education, and the online materials and remote classrooms functioning around the world today may be far from their reach. They are at risk of falling further behind in school. And given that economic downturns typically lead to more children working, getting pregnant or married, and being trafficked or sexually exploited, migrant and displaced children – who already face great risks to their safety — stand to see their situation worsen. Domestic violence is on the rise globally, and accounts of stigma and discrimination against the displaced are also increasing. The increasing global death toll means some migrant and displaced children will be orphaned and become vulnerable to child protection abuses.  

Challenges of COVID-19 in children in low- and middle-income countries

AUTHOR(S)
Heather J. Zar; Jeanette Dawa; Gilberto B. Fischer

Published: June 2020   Paediatric Respiratory Reviews
As the coronavirus pandemic extends to low and middle income countries (LMICs), there are growing concerns about the risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in populations with high prevalence of comorbidities, the impact on health and economies more broadly and the capacity of existing health systems to manage the additional burden of COVID-19. The direct effects of COVID are less of a concern in children, who seem to be largely asymptomatic or to develop mild illness as occurs in high income countries; however children in LMICs constitute a high proportion of the population and may have a high prevalence of risk factors for severe lower respiratory infection such as HIV or malnutrition. Further diversion of resources from child health to address the pandemic among adults may further impact on care for children. Poor living conditions in LMICs including lack of sanitation, running water and overcrowding may facilitate transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The indirect effects of the pandemic on child health are of considerable concern, including increasing poverty levels, disrupted schooling, lack of access to school feeding schemes, reduced access to health facilities and interruptions in vaccination and other child health programs. Further challenges in LMICs include the inability to implement effective public health measures such as social distancing, hand hygiene, timely identification of infected people with self-isolation and universal use of masks. Lack of adequate personal protective equipment, especially N95 masks is a key concern for health care worker protection. While continued schooling is crucial for children in LMICs, provision of safe environments is especially challenging in overcrowded resource constrained schools. The current crisis is a harsh reminder of the global inequity in health in LMICs. The pandemic highlights key challenges to the provision of health in LMICs, but also provides opportunities to strengthen child health broadly in such settings.
Child poverty, food insecurity, and respiratory health during the COVID-19 pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Ian P Sinha; Alice R Lee; Davara Bennett; et al.

Published: June 2020   Lancet Respir Med
The eradication of poverty and hunger are the top sustainable development goals, adopted by UN Member States in 2015. Yet the World Food Programme estimates that, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, acute food insecurity could double from 135 to 265 million people worldwide. In the absence of mitigating policies, poverty leading to food insecurity will damage the respiratory health of a generation of children.
COVID-19 Impacts on African Children: How to protect-a-generation at risk

AUTHOR(S)
Eric Hazard

Published: June 2020  
The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented with the virus spreading in almost all countries in the world. In Africa, 55 out of 54 countries have reported at least one COVID-19 infection. Luckily for Africa, confirmed COVID-19 cases remain comparatively low, at 158,000 as of June 3rd; which is partly attributable to early and decisive action taken by many African governments as well as a youthful population. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Africa not only as a health crisis but also as a devastating socio-economic crisis that may persist over the months and years to come. This policy paper underscores that, although children do not represent a high-risk group for direct COVID-19 fatality, the pandemic posts far-reaching secondary impacts that heighten risks to African children’s rights and wellbeing.
Impacts of COVID-19 on Vulnerable Children in Temporary Accommodation in the UK

AUTHOR(S)
Diana Margo Rosenthal; Marcella Ucci; Michelle Heys; et al.

Published: May 2020   The Lancet Public Health
There is no doubt that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has huge economic implications as highlighted by the media, but there are also a myriad of considerable direct and indirect health, social, and educational consequences for children and families experiencing homelessness, while living in temporary or insecure accommodation (eg, staying with friends or family, sofa surfing, shelters, bed and breakfast lodging). In particular, young children (aged ≤5 years) living in temporary accommodation have an invisible plight that might not seem obvious to many people because they are not on the streets as homeless (eg, rough sleepers), but are perhaps the most susceptible to viral infection because of pre-existing conditions (eg, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, anxiety, depression).1 Additionally, these children rarely have the ability to self-isolate and adhere to social distancing, with previous extreme inequalities and inequities in accessing health care becoming exacerbated.
How COVID-19 is changing the world: A statistical perspective
Published: May 2020  

This report has been compiled jointly by 36 international organizations, under the aegis of the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA).
It covers different aspects of public and private life from economic and environmental fluctuations to changes that affect individuals in terms of income, education, employment and violence and changes affecting public services such as civil aviation and postal services. The report also puts a spotlight on the affects for some sub-population groups like women and children as well as geographical regions. Children already left behind will likely bear the brunt of the pandemic’s impact, whether through missing out on life-saving vaccinations, increased risk of violence, or interrupted education. Many children, especially those in the poorest households and the poorest parts of the world, risk losing their lives to pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, HIV and other preventable diseases unless urgent action is taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

 

COVID-19, School Closures, and Child Poverty: A Social Crisis in the Making

AUTHOR(S)
Wim Van Lancker; Zachary Parolin

Published: April 2020   The Lancet Public Health
While coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread across the globe, many countries have decided to close schools as part of a physical distancing policy to slow transmission and ease the burden on health systems. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization estimates that 138 countries have closed schools nationwide, and several other countries have implemented regional or local closures. These school closures are affecting the education of 80% of children worldwide. Although scientific debate is ongoing with regard to the effectiveness of school closures on virus transmission, the fact that schools are closed for a long period of time could have detrimental social and health consequences for children living in poverty, and are likely to exacerbate existing inequalities. We discuss two mechanisms through which school closures will affect poor children in the USA and Europe.
The Impact of COVID-19 on children
Published: April 2020  

The UN Secretary-General has launched a policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on children. The brief lays out the ways in which the virus will impact children.  Whilst they appear largely to be spared the worst symptoms of the disease, they may well be among the biggest victims of the crisis in the long run because their education, nutrition, safety and health will be significantly undermined by the socioeconomic impact and by unintended consequences of the pandemic response. The harmful effects of this pandemic will not be distributed equally. They are expected to be most damaging for children in the poorest countries, and in the poorest neighbourhoods, and for those in already disadvantaged or vulnerable situations. This policy brief provides a deeper analysis of these effects. It identifies also a series of immediate and sustained actions for the attention of governments and policymakers.

A UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19
Published: April 2020  
This report sets out the framework for the United Nations’ urgent socio-economic support to countries and societies in the face of COVID-19, putting in practice the UN Secretary-General’s Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity report on the same subject. It is one of three critical components of the UN’s efforts to save lives, protect people, and rebuild better, alongside the health response, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the humanitarian response, as detailed in the UN-led COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.
Considering inequalities in the school closure response to COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Richard Armitage; Laura B Nellums

Published: March 2020   The Lancet Global Health
As COVID-19 is declared a pandemic and several countries declare nationwide school closures, these measures are affecting hundreds of millions of children.1More countries are entering delay and mitigation phases of pandemic control, with an urgent need for proactive and multifaceted responses addressing children's social, economic, and health needs to avoid widening disparities and honour commitments to the UN Convention on Child Rights and Sustainable Development Goals.
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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents. Learn more.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.