'Kids were collateral damage in healthcare response to pandemic'
According the latest stats released by the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town (UCT) there was an increase in child injuries during the hard lockdown. Falls increased by 5% (more children falling out of attendants’ arms, falling off beds, falling down stairs), burns increased by 10% (85% liquid burns, mainly in the kitchen) and dog bites increased by 13% (mostly by family dogs).
“It is not surprising that we saw the highest increase in these injuries during the level five lockdown period, when everyone was confined to home,” said the authors of the brief, Shanaaz Mathews, Yolande Baker, Carla Brown and Joan van Niekerk. – The Sunday Times (3 August 2021).
Primary healthcare visits in children under five dropped by 23% during the pandemic, and this led to major gaps in testing and treatment of HIV, TB and malnutrition. “Elective surgeries for children were cancelled, and many children with disabilities were unable to access care,” said Lori Lake of the Children’s Institute.
Prof Michael Hendricks of the department of paediatrics and child health at UCT said: “Rising unemployment and food prices increased pressure on poor households, with 47% of households running out of money to buy food during the hard lockdown.”
Prof Maylene Shung-King, a public health specialist at UCT, said: “The assertions by key experts for the advocacy briefs showed how the country overlooked the disastrous collateral damage on many aspects of children’s lives in response to the pandemic. Their needs were sidelined and these advocacy briefs highlight those.”