The Mexican Government must put in place special measures to mitigate impact of COVID-19 on excluded groups of children and adolescents in poverty
Mexico City, June 10 – Save the Children is deeply concerned about the steep rise in the numbers of deaths and confirmed cases related to COVID-19 among Mexican children and youth.
According to data from the Mexican Ministry of Health, there have been 52 deaths of children and adolescents from COVID-19. Between April 12 and June 8th, the number of cases of children and adolescents infected with the Coronavirus, increased from 84 to 2,622 cases, over 30 times as many in just under two months.
Although this age group has not been classified as high risk, the data shows children are also contracting the disease or even dying from it. Save the Children urges the Mexican government to take strong prevention measures to avoid more infections.
These measures should especially take the wellbeing into account of the millions of children whose families live in poverty or who do not have access to social protection. With their parents more likely to lose their job, less access to health care and often living in crammed conditions without the possibility to social distance, they are more likely to be affected. Also, people working in the informal sector have a greater urgency to go out to work as no work means no food, which leaves them more exposed to contracting the virus and infecting family members, including children.
Millions of girls, boys, and adolescents who work to support their families’ finances are also exposed to the disease. Other highly vulnerable groups are children and adolescents living on the streets, migrants or asylum seekers, or adolescents who are in detention.
Save the Children has been ramping up its support for 80,000 of the most vulnerable families in ten states of the country, including some 300,000 children and youth. The country is currently experiencing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, with 124,301 confirmed cases and 14,649 deaths[i].
“Our teams on the ground are seeing everyday what the impact is on children. We met 6-year-old Dani, who has not been to pre-school for over two months now” said Maripina Menendez, CEO of the organization. “His mother and father became unemployed due to the COVID-19 quarantine and as a result, her family’s struggles to put food on the table which affects not only the physical health of the children, but also their mental well-being. Children in Mexico are out of school, hungry and many of them are scared.”
“This story can be multiplied millions of times – this is the number of people in Mexico who work in the informal sector of the economy, which has been one of the most affected by the crisis. Not only Mexico, but the world needs to come together to fight this pandemic for the most vulnerable.”
“Although the hospital occupation has not yet been exceeded, it is necessary to ensure medical supplies for protection and treatment of COVID-19 in all hospitals, including those in the most marginalized communities, since many hospitals have reported a lack of material.”
- Save the Children calls on the Mexican government to:
- Ensure that any response to the health and socioeconomic crisis incorporates and prioritizes the well-being of children and adolescents.
- Expand public programs with cash transfers for families with children and adolescents, especially for those who work in the informal sector or who have lost their jobs.
- Strengthen its prevention campaign, providing reliable information to Mexican communities to increase understanding of how to treat and slow the spread of COVID-19. The information needs to be available in all formats and platforms, and in the main indigenous languages.
- Expand seasonal influenza vaccinations to young girls and boys, with the aim of reducing the saturation of the health system due to a double infectious outbreak.
- Monitor the health status of migrant and asylum-seeking children in public and social shelters and ensure access to health services in case of symptoms.
It is important that the Canadian government ensure their aid priorities are shifting with the evolution of the pandemic. For example, during the earlier months of the pandemic, we saw fewer health impacts on children compared to older age groups. Now we are seeing major impacts on children over time. In addition to ensuring the secondary impacts of COVID-19 are being addressed, such as increases in abuse and neglect of children, and domestic and gender-based violence towards youth, we must ensure that the health systems and protocols to address COVID-19 are child and adolescent-friendly if this trend continues.
Note to editors:
Save the Children is the leading independent organization in promoting and defending the rights of children and adolescents. It works in some 120 countries serving emergency situations and development programs. It helps children to achieve a healthy and safe childhood. In Mexico, it has been working since 1973 on health and nutrition, education, child protection, defending of the rights of children and adolescents.
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Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In Canada and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.