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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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Prioritising children's rights in the COVID-19 response
Published: July 2020   The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health
Although substantial progress has been made in many aspects of child health in the past two decades, the COVID-19 pandemic and its wide-ranging effects are threatening some of these hard-won gains. Public health measures such as lockdown, school closures, and restrictions in population movement—while necessary to halt virus transmission—are causing prolonged disruption to societal functioning and exacerbating inequalities worldwide. The global Human Development Index (HDI) is projected to decline this year for the first time since 1990, effectively erasing all progress in human development made in the past 6 years.With resources diverted to tackle the pandemic, many clinical and community health services for children have reduced in capacity. A modelling study by Timothy Roberton and colleagues in The Lancet Global Health estimated that a 9·8–18·5% reduction in coverage of essential maternal and child health services and a 10% increase in child wasting prevalence would lead to 42 240 additional child deaths per month across 118 low-income and middle-income countries.
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.
Protecting Forcibly Displaced Women and Girls during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Published: July 2020   UNHCR Policy Brief
Forcibly displaced adolescent girls are facing increased risk of disrupted education and school drop-out as well as an extra caregiving burden during the pandemic. Refugee and internally displaced women and girls are more likely to hold precarious jobs in the informal sector and face disruptions in livelihoods and income generating activities as a result of the pandemic. The outbreak and subsequent movement restrictions have exacerbated existing risks of GBV, in particular intimate partner violence, as well as risks of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) while also hampering access to lifesaving services for survivors and other essential health services. Furthermore, limited access to information and decision-making spaces related to the COVID-19 response place women and girls at risk.
Despite these challenges, forcibly displaced women and girls are showing extreme resilience and are playing an important role in responding to the pandemic. This brief provides a snapshot of GBV and gender responsive interventions by UNHCR during the outbreak.
Learning in times of lockdown: how Covid-19 is affecting education and food security in India

AUTHOR(S)
Muzna Alvi; Manavi Gupta

Published: July 2020   Food Security
This paper discusses the implications of lockdown-induced school and rural child-care center closures on education and health outcomes for the urban and rural poor. It focuses on food and nutritional security of children who depend on school feeding and supplementary nutrition programs. Authors argue that the impacts are likely to be much more severe for girls as well as for children from already disadvantaged ethnic and caste groups. They also discuss ways in which existing social security programs can be leveraged and strengthened to ameliorate these impacts.
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.
Because We Matter: Addressing COVID-19 and violence against girls in Asia-Pacific
Published: July 2020  
Asia is home to more than half of the world’s 1.1 billion girls. Gender inequality in many parts of the region means that girls are often systematically disadvantaged and oppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion, and discrimination. Emerging data shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against girls and women, particularly domestic violence, has intensified. Partly due to containment measures during COVID19, systems and services that are mandated to prevent, identify, and respond to violence against children are operating with limited or no capacity. Inadequate levels of government and donor investments in child protection, as well as gaps in the functionality of systems and effective enforcement of laws and policies have been pervasive. These existing challenges have been further exacerbated by the pandemic and are now affecting all children, while disproportionately impacting girls.
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.  

Children wait for a teacher in a classroom at Treichville Regional School, in the city of Abidjan. Although the school reopened after being closed for many years due to armed conflict, most teachers remain absent. (2011)
Framework for reopening schools
Published: June 2020 UNICEF Publication
Global school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic present an unprecedented risk to children’s education, protection and well-being. Schools do much more than teach children how to read, write and count. They also provide nutrition, health and hygiene services; mental health and psychosocial support; and dramatically reduce the risk of violence, early pregnancy and more. And it’s the most vulnerable children who are the hardest hit by school closures, and we know from previous crises that the longer they are out of school, the less likely they are to return.When deciding whether to reopen schools, authorities should look at the benefits and risks across education, public health and socio-economic factors, in the local context, using the best available evidence. This policy brief aims to inform the decision-making process regarding school reopening, support national preparations and guide the implementation process, as part of overall public health and education planning processes. The guidelines outline six key priorities to assess the readiness of those schools and inform planning.
Hear it From the Girls – Asia and COVID-19
Published: May 2020  
The Asia Pacific region has seen significant progress in gender equality in recent years in a number of areas, such as education and political participation. From 2000-2016, the number of out-of-school girls in primary and secondary school dropped by 67 million. 1 The number of females in tertiary school rose by 41 million. From 1990 to 2018 the proportion of women in national parliaments has risen from 8 percent to18 percent. Unfortunately, in other areas, Asia and the Pacific have seen a decline in equality. According to UNESCAP, women’s economic empowerment has remained nearly stagnant and those who are young and in the informal labour market are expected to be hit the hardest. The East Asia Pacific Region is one of the only regions in the world where rates of teenage pregnancy are increasing in low-and-middle-income countries.Any emergency risks increasing existing discriminations and incidents of violence. It also risks losing progress so recently made for girls and young women. The COVID-19 Pandemic is an emergency on a scale not seen for nearly 100 years. 
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.

 

Costing of actions to safeguard vulnerable Mexican households with young children from the consequences of COVID-19 social distancing measures

AUTHOR(S)
M. Vilar-Compte; V. Pérez; G. Teruel; et al.

Published: May 2020   International Journal for Equity in Health
COVID-19 has imposed unprecedented challenges to society. As the pandemic evolves, the social distancing measures that have been globally enforced, while essential, are having undesirable socioeconomic side effects particularly among vulnerable populations. In Mexico, families who depend upon informal employment face increased threats to their wellbeing, and households who in addition have young children may face long-term consequences. The Mexican government has not yet taken actions, but a coalition of non-governmental organizations is advocating in partnership with academic institutions for social protection actions such as a cash transfer and basic services subsidies for families with young children, subsisting from the informal sector economy. To facilitate governmental action, we estimated the costs for implementation of these recommendations. The methodology used could be replicated in other countries facing similar challenges.
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.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Family Planning and Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage
Published: April 2020   UNFPA Brief
UNFPA aims to achieve three world-changing results by 2030, the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. These are: Ending unmet need for family planning, ending gender-based violence including harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage, and ending all preventable maternal deaths. COVID-19 pandemic could critically undermine progress made towards achieving these goals.
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.
Age profile of susceptibility, mixing, and social distancing shape the dynamics of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak in China

AUTHOR(S)
Juanjuan zhang; Maria Litvinova; Yuxia Liang; et al.

Published: March 2020   MedRXiv
Strict interventions were successful to control the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China. As transmission intensifies in other countries, the interplay between age, contact patterns, social distancing, susceptibility to infection and disease, and COVID-19 dynamics remains unclear. To answer these questions, we analyze contact surveys data for Wuhan and Shanghai before and during the outbreak and contact tracing information from Hunan Province. Daily contacts were reduced 7-9 fold during the COVID-19 social distancing period, with most interactions restricted to the household. Children 0-14 years were 59% (95% CI 7-82%) less susceptible than individuals 65 years and over. A transmission model calibrated against these data indicates that social distancing alone, as implemented in China during the outbreak, is sufficient to control COVID-19. While proactive school closures cannot interrupt transmission on their own, they reduce peak incidence by half and delay the epidemic. These findings can help guide global intervention policies.
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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.