The new UN report reveals an alarming decline in the health of women, children and adolescents

A new United Nations report reveals that the health of women and children is deteriorating around the world, a situation due to the combined effects of the conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and its consequences, devastating effects on the future prospects of children and young people and women.

The data presented in the report shows a serious setback in child well-being in almost all key measures achieved, as well as in many key indicators of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Since the publication of the latest progress report of Every Woman Every Child in 2020, food insecurity, hunger, early marriage, risks of intimate partner violence, as well as adolescent anxiety and depression, have all increased. .

In 2021, an estimated 25 million children were unvaccinated or under-vaccinated (six million more than in 2019) and were at increased risk of contracting life-threatening or disabling diseases. The pandemic has left millions of children without school, many of them for more than a year, and nearly 80% of children in 104 countries and territories have experienced learning losses due to school closures. Since the start of the global pandemic, 10.5 million children have lost a parent or guardian to COVID-19.

“Our failure to deliver on our promises is fundamentally due to our inability to bridge the deep inequalities that are at the heart of global crises, be it the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict or climate emergency. The report describes the impact of these crises on women, children and adolescents, from maternal mortality to education deprivation to severe malnutrition, “he said. António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations.

The report provides a wide range of evidence showing that children and adolescents are very different likely to lead healthy lives depending on where they were born, their exposure to conflict and their family’s financial situation. Thereby :

  • A child born in a low-income country has an average life expectancy at birth of around 63 years, compared to 80 in a high-income country. This terrible 17-year gap has changed little in recent years. In 2020, five million children died before the age of five, mostly from preventable or treatable causes. Only sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have the highest rates of maternal, child and adolescent mortality, as well as stillbirths.
  • In 2020, over 45 million children suffered from acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition that also makes them vulnerable to developmental delays and disease. Nearly three-quarters of these children live in low-middle-income countries. In the same year, stunted children reached a staggering 149 million. Africa is the only region where the number of children affected by this disease has increased over the past 20 years, from 54.4 million in 2000 to 61.4 million in 2020.
  • The six countries with the highest number of internally displaced people (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Syrian Arab Republic, Sudan and Yemen) are also among the top ten affected by food insecurity.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman is nearly 130 times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than in Europe or North America. In low- and middle-income countries, women far from benefiting from antenatal care, skilled childbirth assistance and postnatal care, putting them at high risk of disability and mortality.
  • Due to the recent humanitarian disasters in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Somalia, Ukraine and Yemen, millions of children and their families suffer from poor physical and mental health. In 2021, a record 89.3 million people around the world were forced to flee their homes due to wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations.

The report calls on the global community to take action to reverse this harmful development and deliver on the promises made to women, children and adolescents in the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, it argues that countries continue to invest in health services, fight crises of all kinds and food insecurity, and empower women and young people around the world.

Titled Protect the promise (Keeping our promises), the report is published by several global partners, including WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, and the Countdown to 2030 initiative. It takes stock of progress made over the past two years in relation to the Global Strategy for the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents, launched by the Secretary General of the United Nations as part of Every wife, every child. The most comprehensive summary of the evidence we have on the current state of maternal, neonatal, infant and adolescent health, this publication updates the latest report from the Every Woman, Every Child, Global Strategy published in 2020.


“Almost three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, its long-term effects on the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents are now evident. The likelihood that they will be able to lead healthy and productive lives has been greatly reduced, “said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.” As the world gradually emerges from the pandemic, protecting and promoting women’s health , children and young people is essential to sustain and sustain the global recovery. “

“The effects of COVID-19, conflict and the climate crisis have multiplied the challenges for vulnerable communities, exposing weaknesses and inequalities in health systems and undoing hard-won advances in favor of women, children and adolescents. However, we are able to reverse this situation, “said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.” By investing in resilient and inclusive primary health systems, relaunching routine vaccination programs and building the skills of health workers, we can ensure that every woman and every child has access to the care they deserve, necessary to survive and thrive. “

“To the already multiple and growing threats is added a crisis of inequalities. In a world where too many children, adolescents and women are dying, it is urgent to focus our actions on equity, empowerment and access to services, “said Kersti Kaljulaid, Global Commissioner for Every Woman, Every Child and President of the initiative of the Republic of Estonia 2016-2021. It is not just about the commitments made in the Sustainable Development Goals and in all the campaigns that followed, but also, more generally, about the promise of potential with which each of us is born. . Too often, this promise remains unclaimed, or even denied. “

“In the face of growing political opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights in many countries, women, children and adolescents are now deprived of most of the protections they enjoyed ten years ago and many others are still not making the progress of they need, “said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director. “Access to sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception, is a fundamental right that directly and profoundly affects the growth capacity of women and adolescents. We must extend these rights and services to the most marginalized populations, leaving no one behind. “

“The report calls on countries to continue investing in health services, in all crisis contexts, and to reinvent health systems so that every woman, child and adolescent can truly benefit, regardless of their circumstances and wherever they live,” she said. Helen Clark, chair of the board of directors of the Global Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and former Prime Minister of New Zealand. “Experts and world leaders are calling for more women to participate in decision-making and policymaking at all levels, meaningful engagement with youth and health systems. Primary health care that provides the services people need, where and when they need them most. ”

Notes to editors

Multimedia content to download here.

Data and infographics available here.

The report will be released on October 18, 2022 at 9:00 GMT + 2 at the World Health Summit in Berlin, during a session where world and youth leaders will discuss its findings. The session is accessible in person or online (in English).

List of speakers:

  • Ms Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and chair of the board of the Global Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (@HelenClarkNZ)
  • Ms Kersti Kaljulaid, former President of the Republic of Estonia and Global Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Every Woman Every Child Initiative (@ Kersti Kaljulaid)
  • Mr. Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Health of Sierra Leone (@mohs_sl)
  • Mr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General (@Dr Tedros)
  • Mr. Aboubacar Kampo, Director of Health, UNICEF (@Abou Kampo)
  • Ms. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director (@Atayeshe)
  • Mr. Anshu Banerjee, Director, Department of Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health and Aging, WHO (@ABanerjeeWHO)
  • Ms. Yana Panfilova, founder of Teenergizer, Ukrainian activist and refugee (@YPanfilova)
  • Mr. Elhadj As Sy, Chairman of the Board of the Kofi Annan Foundation (@Elhadj_As_Sy)
  • Ms Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International (@SaveCEO_Intl)
  • Ms. Maziko Matemvu, President and Founder of Uwale (@maziko speaks)
  • Ms. Loyce Pace, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs, United States Department of Health and Human Services (@HHS_ASGA)

Contact with the media

For any questions or requests for an interview regarding the people attending the event, journalists are invited to contact:

Natalie Bailey, every woman, every child: [email protected]

Cathy Bartley and Mijail Santos, Global Partnership for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health: [email protected] And
[email protected]

Sara Alhattab, UNICEF: [email protected]

Rebecca Zerzan, UNFPA: [email protected]

Laura Keenan, WHO: [email protected]

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