29 million babies have been estimated to be born in South Asia in the next nine months. Out of this 29 million, 5 million have been forecasted to be born in Pakistan alone, according to a report by Unicef.
The report estimates 116 million babies will be born across the world in the 40-week period between March 11 and December 16, with almost a quarter of them in South Asia.
India is expected to report 20 million births, followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh (2.4 million) and Afghanistan (1 million).
“The continuing rapid spread of Covid-19 across South Asia means new mothers and newborns will be greeted by harsh realities, including global containment measures such as lockdowns and curfews, health centres overwhelmed with response efforts, supply and equipment shortages, and a lack of sufficient skilled birth attendants as health workers […] are redeployed to treat Covid-19 patients.
“Unicef cautions that although evidence suggests that pregnant mothers are not more affected by Covid-19 than others, countries need to ensure they still have access to antenatal, delivery and post-natal services.
“Likewise, sick newborns need emergency services as they are at high risk of death. New families require care to ensure the health and well-being of mothers, support to start breastfeeding, and to get medicines, vaccines and nutrition to keep their babies healthy,” the report states.
The report also addressed how governments can ensure proper pre and post natal care for the expecting women, as well as urging the mothers to be to take precautionary measures by practicing social distancing, avoiding physical gatherings and using online health services.
It also advised them to continue breastfeeding their children even if they are infected as “the virus has not been found in samples of breast milk”.