On Wednesday, UNICEF issued a report titled “A worsening Health Crisis for Children” about the effects of the economic situation on the lives of Lebanese children.
According to the report, which coincides with World Immunization Week (WIW), “the ripple effects of the global economic situation, with heightened prices and increased inflation, are exacerbating Lebanon’s calamitous crisis, with grave consequences for children’s health.”
Per UNICEF, the situation will affect the health sector, which is already bearing the “major exodus” of medical professionals and “a hiring freeze” by health facilities, adding to the limitations on medications and medical equipment imports, which are also heavily impacting the health of both women and children.
The report also highlights that the routine vaccination rate in Lebanon dropped by 31%, which left the children with vulnerable health, and in danger of acquiring potentially deadly diseases, namely measles, diphtheria, and pneumonia.
The report also mentions that the rising fuel crisis poses a threat to essential services including vaccine delivery.
“With 80 percent of the population living in poverty, many families cannot even afford the cost of transportation to take their children to a health care center, and many are no longer able to provide the food and nutrition their children need to survive and thrive,” said Ettie Higgins, UNICEF Representative.
The report commented that the number of children who die within the first four weeks of birth rose among the refugees.
Adding that “Lebanon had achieved remarkable success in reducing maternal deaths, but numbers rose again between 2019 and 2021, from 13.7 to 37 deaths per 1,000 live births.”
UNICEF adds that support is needed to prevent the deterioration of the health and nutrition sectors, as “the number of children who had to skip a meal rose to 53% in October 2021, from 37% just six months earlier.”
“With this devastating crisis in its third year and threatening to worsen, all parties in Lebanon must do their utmost to meet the health and nutritional needs of vulnerable women and children,” concluded Ettie Higgins.