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COVID-19 may have orphaned 7.5 million kids worldwide

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Worldwide, about 10.5 million children may have lost parents or caregivers to COVID-19 and 7.5 million were orphaned, according to new study that estimated excess mortality using World Health Organization (WHO) data.In the study, published today in JAMA Pediatrics, a University of Oxford researcher led a team in analyzing excess COVID-19–related deaths from Jan 1, 2020, to May 1, 2022.

The team noted that previous global total estimates and country-level comparisons were limited by inconsistencies in COVID-19 testing and incomplete death reporting.An estimated 10.5 million children lost parents or caregivers to COVID-19, and 7.5 million were orphaned, with the greatest numbers in the Africa (24.3%) and Southeast Asia (40.6%) WHO regions and the least in the Americas (14.0%), Eastern Mediterranean (14.6%), European (4.7%), and Western Pacific (1.8%) regions.In Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Nepal had the most bereaved children.

In Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa were hardest hit. At the national level, the most bereft children were in India (3.5 million), Indonesia (660,000), Egypt (450,000), Nigeria (430,000), and Pakistan (410,000).A 'public health imperative' to support orphansThe consequences of parental or caregiver loss and orphanhood can be catastrophic, the researchers said, including institutionalization, abuse, traumatic grief, mental illness, teen pregnancy, low educational achievement, and chronic and infectious diseases.Little is apparently being done to care for the bereaved children despite billions of dollars being invested in preventing COVID-19 deaths, the authors said, with only Peru and the United States making

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