GFF leaders warn of emerging secondary global health crisis from disruptions in primary health care due to COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates in low- and lower-middle income countries, global health and development leaders warned today of the growing risk of widespread disruptions in access to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition services, and urged immediate steps to prevent a secondary global health crisis. A rapid survey of the 36 countries currently supported by the GFF found that nearly half are already reporting life-threatening service disruptions.

The warning came from top representatives of theĀ Global Financing Facility (GFF)Ā Investors GroupĀ in response to emerging findings that the COVID-19 pandemic is halting delivery in GFF-supported countries of essential services such as ante-natal care visits, attended births, delivery of child vaccinations and access to family planning, which have been key drivers in recent global reductions in maternal and child mortality. These disruptions are likely to lead to significant increases in preventable maternal and child illness and death.

Considerable evidence from the 2014-16 West African Ebola outbreak exists of the massive negative impact these health emergencies can have on access to basic health and nutrition services. New estimates by researchers based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggest that, under a scenario in which COVID-19 causes similar disruptions to what was seen in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak, almost 1.2 million children and 57,000 mothers could die over just the next six months. This would represent a 45 percent increase over existing child mortality levels.