Women and children in Pakistan require urgent support, due to surge in the COVID-19 cases with the third wave, an ongoing nutrition emergency and recurrent disasters. As of 23rd June, there are 950,768 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the global acute malnutrition rate is 18 percent.
In its response to COVID-19, UNICEF is prioritizing prevention and supporting health and nutrition service continuity by empowering health workers with training and equipment.
UNICEF is providing timely/accurate information; promoting behaviors that reduce risk and limit transmission; facilitating infection prevention and control; supporting learning continuity; providing psychosocial support; and working to prevent stigma.
UNICEF is also responding to the protracted nutrition emergency with curative and preventive life-saving services, including community management of acute malnutrition; maternal, infant and young child health; and infant and young child feeding services.
UNICEF requires US$61.4 million to provide life-saving response in Pakistan, mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and ensure emergency preparedness.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
The first imported case of COVID-19 was reported in Pakistan on 25 February 2020. As of 23rd June 2021, there are more than 950,768 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including over 895,690 patients who have recovered and been discharged and 22,073 deaths. Pakistan is going through a third wave of COVID-19 cases due to which this appeal is being revised to accommodate higher targets as per current support needs.
There are 20 high burden cities with the highest number of COVID-19 positive cases. Due to lack of continuity of essential health services, the risk of additional morbidities and mortalities is significant, and women and children urgently need access to information and care.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure is urgently needed, as washing hands with soap – a key COVID-19 prevention measure – has increased the burden on water services. Without safe and effective WASH facilities/services in schools, health care facilities and communities, an estimated 850,000 children will be at risk of malnutrition and preventable diseases, including diarrhea, typhoid, cholera and polio.
The closure of nearly 197,000 educational facilities has severely disrupted the already weak education system and jeopardized the learning of millions of children in Pakistan. Before the pandemic, 22.8 million children (including 12.1 million girls) were out of school in Pakistan.
Pakistan is also seeing a rise in child protection risks in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including physical and emotional mistreatment, gender-based violence, psychosocial distress and mental health challenges. Pakistan Country brief on learning continuity amidst COVID-19 school closures disseminated on 17th June 2021, found that lack of access to technology, motivation, domestic chores and working outside the home are some of the barriers to learning during the closures of schools.
Pakistan is facing a protracted nutrition emergency. The national global acute malnutrition rate is nearly 18 per cent, exceeding the internationally agreed emergency threshold of 15 per cent. If urgent action is not taken, this will lead to rising mortality rates among children under 5 years. A recent study estimates that child wasting could lead to an 18 per cent increase in young child mortality.
Pakistan also suffers from recurrent natural shocks (earthquakes, floods, drought and epidemics) and strengthened preparedness and risk reduction measures is critical to curtail losses and support effective responses to future emergencies.