This study presents new evidence on the potential rise in maternal and child mortality in low-income and middle-income countries if essential health services are disrupted as a result of COVID-19.
The authors modeled three hypothetical scenarios in which the coverage of essential maternal and child health interventions is reduced by 9.8–51.9% and the prevalence of wasting is increased by 10–50%. They used the Lives Saved Tool to estimate the additional maternal and under-5 child deaths under each scenario in 118 low-income and middle-income countries. They estimated additional deaths for a single month and extrapolated for 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months.
The least severe scenario (coverage reductions of 9.8–18.5% and wasting increase of 10%) projected 253,500 additional child deaths and 12,200 additional maternal deaths over 6 months while the most severe scenario projected an additional 1.2 million child deaths and 56,700 maternal deaths in the 118 countries if coverage of essential services drops by around 45% for 6 months.
Reduced coverage for childbirth interventions accounted for approximately 60% of the additional maternal deaths. The increase in wasting prevalence accounted for 18–23% of additional child deaths and reduced coverage of antibiotics for pneumonia and neonatal sepsis and of oral rehydration solution for diarrhea accounted for around 41% of additional child deaths