In an interview with the British newspaper The Telegraph, the head of Health at Unicef Dr. Stefan Peterson he warned that “indiscriminate blocking measures do not have an ideal effect on the virus” in low- and middle-income countries.

Also by the same newspaper was interviewed the chief scientific consultant of the Department of International Development (Dfid) and a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), Charlotte Watts.

“In terms of health systems, I think we will also face broader challenges – how we properly mobilized against Covid – to offer programs for other diseases.

For example, supporting the distribution of mosquito nets against malaria or ensure that people with HIV to access life-saving drugs.

And there is still a risk that people will be afraid to go to health centers in the first place if they think they are not safe, ”commented Watts, referring to the situation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Charlotte Watts, in an interview with The Telegraph

The doctor argued that “asking families to stay at home in a slum room, without food or water, will not limit the transmission of the virus“.

Professor Watts' argument also applies to Brazilian slums, where, as reported by G1, many families face the pandemic without access to water, internet and basic sanitation, or even living in overcrowded condominiums.

31.1 million Brazilians (16% of the population) do not have access to water provided through the general supply network; 74.2 million (37% of the population) live in areas without sewage collection and another 5.8 million do not have a bathroom at home.

11.6 million Brazilians (5.6% of the population) live in properties with more than 3 residents per bedroom, which is considered excessive density.

Data taken from the G1 report. Source: Continuous National Household Sample Survey (Pnad 2018) from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

“(They are factors like this that) far outweigh any threat posed by the coronavirus”, referring to developing countries that have lost international health support.

"I am concerned that the quarantine measures have been copied between countries for lack of knowing what to do, rarely with any contextualization for the local situation".

"" One size does not fit anyone. " The goal is to slow down the virus, not to arrest people. We need to look up and look at the overall picture of public health (and not just the coronavirus). ”

Stefan Peterson, head of Health at Unicef, to The Telegraph

Effects in different regions

When asked about the effects of Covid becoming the center of attention, Peterson commented on the situation in sub-Saharan Africa:

“Since we started counting infant and maternal mortality, these numbers have been decreasing and decreasing. And, in fact, these times are unprecedented, because we are very likely to look at a scenario in which the numbers are rising.

This is not Covid's – it is not a childhood illness. Yes, there are rare cases, and we see them reported in the media. But pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, death in childbirth, these are the reasons why we will see an increase in deaths, ”he said. “These threats far outweigh any threat posed by coronavirus in low and middle income countries“.

Stefan Peterson, Head of Health at Unicef, The Telegraph

In addition, in the interview with Charlotte Watts, the factor of domestic violence, which had a great increase in frequency across the globe, including the United Kingdom and Brazil, was also recalled:

“At the moment, we are analyzing our entire portfolio at Dfid to think about what development is like in a Covid world. For example, we could adapt HIV programs so that patients would pick up a larger set of pills at once and not have to go back to the healthcare system as often. ”

Charlotte Watts, in an interview with The Telegraph

Hope for an end?

When asked about the Covid-19 vaccine, Watts compared the situation with the vaccine for malaria and HIV.

The development of any vaccine is difficult. (…) We still don't have a highly effective vaccine for malaria or HIV.

But, as I understand it, during discussions with other scientists, there is more confidence about Covid, in part because there is research and vaccine development work that has been done on other viruses that may already be applicable to Covid. And also because the virus mutates less quickly – so it is a more fixed target than something like HIV.

But we cannot guarantee that we will have a vaccine in the near future, although there is a great effort to speed up the process and maximize our chances.

Charlotte Watts, in an interview with The Telegraph

Finally, Stefan Peterson said in an interview that he was concerned that the “current battle against Covid-19 is turning into a child rights crisis“, Robbing a generation of its perspectives on health, education and economics.


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