India pledges $2B philanthropy for Covid care

New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) India pledged $2 billion out of $20.6 billion philanthropy funds for 2020-2021 to strengthen all levels of care in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to ensure essential public health functions with an enhanced focus on women, children and adolescents and the most vulnerable.
The commitments were launched on Friday at “Lives in the Balance”, a global online summit to take stock of how Covid-19 is impacting the progress towards Universal Health Coverage.
The pandemic is threatening three decades of improvement in health and social services for women, newborns, children and adolescents.
The well-being of this vulnerable group is being more affected than others due to disruptions to essential health, nutrition and social services since the pandemic, according to senior health experts at The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), a global alliance of more than 1,000 organizations, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In a huge effort to restore crumbling services for women, newborns, children and adolescents, a group of high income, low- and middle-income countries and foundations are making pledges of $20.6 billion to protect this group.
$6.6 billion (32 per cent) of the total pledge is from money committed by low and middle-income countries themselves, including Afghanistan, India, Kenya, Liberia, and Nigeria.
An additional $14 billion (68 per cent) is from official development assistance and grants given by Germany, Canada, Sweden, the UK, the US and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Recent WHO data from 105 countries show that 90 per cent of countries have experienced disruptions to health services, with low- and middle-income countries reporting the greatest difficulties.
Some of the most frequently disrupted services include those related to: immunization services (facility-based services: 61 per cent and outreach facilities: 70 per cent,) and family planning and contraception services: 68 per cent.
The maternal mortality ratio has dropped by 38 per cent worldwide between 2000 and 2017. Still about 25,000 women were dying every month during and following pregnancy and childbirth, in 2017. Similarly, while the mortality rate for children under five years of age has been cut by 60 per cent since 1990, about 5.2 million children under five were still dying every year from preventable causes before the pandemic.
According to early estimates of the indirect impact of Covid-19 on child and maternal mortality, more than two million additional child and maternal deaths are estimated over 12 months (2020-2021) above the pre-pandemic level because of disruptions to essential health and nutrition services.
PMNCH has issued a seven-point Call to Action in response to the devastating effects of Covid-19 on the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents.
It calls on leaders to protect and prioritize their rights and health during the Covod-19 response and recovery by strengthening political commitment, policies and financing for vital health services and social protections, particularly for the most vulnerable.

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