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4,000 children orphaned in Nigeria by COVID-19, highest in West Africa — World Bank

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The World Bank has said an estimated 4,000 Nigerian children lost one or both parents between March 2020 and July 2021 due to COVID-19-associated death.

This came as the Director-General of World Trade Orgaisation, WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, dismissed the current inequity in vaccine distribution by developed countries as unacceptable.

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The Bank stated this in its latest blog post co-authored by Laura Rawlings, lead economist at World Bank and Susan Hillis, a senior technical advisor, CDC COVID-19 International Task Force.

The report, titled, ‘’For every two COVID-19 deaths, one child loses a caregiver. We must do more to address the orphan crisis,’’ said the children left behind had been practically invisible.

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According to the report, nearly two million children have been orphaned since the global pandemic started in 2020.

The report said:  “By the end of June 2021, because of COVID-19, our estimates show that nearly two million children aged under 18 years have lost a mother, father, and/or grandparent caregiver who lived in their household.

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“The economic, developmental, and psychological impacts on these children will reverberate across generations, a tragic legacy of COVID mortality.  The COVID crisis will leave many unwanted legacies.

“The world has been closely tracking the COVID-19 death toll, with official mortality counts now reaching over four million people, largely concentrated among adults. The children left behind have been practically invisible.”

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In Nigeria, it estimated that 4,100 children were orphaned for losing one or both parents or the death of custodial grandparents, according to Imperial College London’s COVID-19 Orphanhood data dashboard developed for the report.

It also showed that 4,600 Nigerian children lost one or both parents, death of custodial grandparents, and/or death of other co-residing grandparents.

Further analysis showed that Nigeria has the highest number of orphaned children in West Africa.

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Others in West Africa with more than 1,000 orphaned children include Mali (1,000), Ghana(1,500), Cameroon (2,600) and Senegal (2,400).

South Africa currently has the highest number in Africa with 101,700 children orphaned within the period.

Meanwhile, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, has said the current inequity in vaccine distribution by developed countries is “not acceptable”.

World leaders are clamouring for vaccine equality to combat the global pandemic.

Speaking in an interview with CNN via zoom on Wednesday, Okonjo-Iweala addressed inequity in the distribution of vaccines.

She also talked about the role of the WTO to ensure free trading on the manufacturing and availability of vaccines and Pfizer’s announcement to start manufacturing in Africa.

She said:  “The current inequity we see is not acceptable by stretch of imagination, I mean the good news is 1.1 billion more doses were produced in June, 45 percent higher than May. The bad news is that of this amount only 1.4 percent went to Africa, and only 0.24 percent to low-income countries.

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