By Ndubuisi Francis
An estimated 4,000 Nigerian children were orphaned by the COVID-19 pandemic between March 2020 and July 2021, the World Bank has revealed in a new report.
The statistical report by the bank’s experts at the Imperial College of London revealed that over 4,100 Nigerian children lost one or both primary caregivers within the reference period, while 4,300 lost one or both primary and secondary caregivers.
The blog report jointly authored by World Bank’s Lead Economist, Laura Rawlings, and Susan Hillis, a senior technical advisor, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 International Task Force was captioned, “For every two COVID-19 deaths, one child loses a caregiver. We must do more to address the orphan crisis.”
The report said: “The COVID crisis will leave many unwanted legacies. The world has been closely tracking the COVID-19 death toll, with official mortality counts now reaching over four million people, largely concentrated among adults. The children left behind have been practically invisible.
“Our estimates of the toll on children left behind, just released, are that for every two people, who die of COVID, one child is left orphaned, facing the death of a parent or grandparent caregiver, who had been living in their home.
“By the end of June 2021, because of COVID-19, our estimates show that nearly two million children under 18 years had lost a mother, father, and/or grandparent caregiver, who lived in their household.”
According to the experts, countries with primary caregiver death rates of at least one per 1,000 children include Peru (10.2 per 1,000 children), South Africa (5.1), Mexico (3.5), Brazil (2.4), Colombia (2.3), Iran (1.7), the USA (1.5), Argentina (1.1), and Russia (1.0).
They also said at the current rate, one child was being orphaned every 12 seconds due to a COVID-19-associated death, adding that the toll was growing.
The authors noted that the COVID-19- related deaths had a wide range of effects on the children from economic, developmental to psychological impacts, which will reverberate across generations.
According to them, children orphaned by COVID face a constellation of risks, which often arrive with rapid and broad consequences.
“The threats of poverty, malnutrition, displacement and separation from siblings or other family members, school dropout, depression, violence and child marriage can emerge suddenly from the Pandora’s box of COVID-19,” they said.
Nigeria has as of July 20, 2021, recorded about 2,128 COVID-19 deaths, suggesting that for every one death in the country, an average of two children become orphans.