This is the year of the shadow pandemic

In 2022 we they will still feel the consequences Covid-19 pandemic. Many of us count numbers directly related to the virus – how many people there were vaccinated, infected or hospitalized, how many are on respirators or have died. But we tended to ignore the indirect effects of the virus – and the measures taken to prevent infections – on our most vulnerable citizens: children, adolescents and women. We must now turn our attention to this “shadow pandemic” if we are to have any hope of bringing the world back to normal.

Although women, children and adolescents are less likely than others to become ill or die from coronavirus, they have experienced disproportionately large disruptions in many of the services they rely on, due to the closure and diversion of key resources.

Less than two out of ten health activities related to Covid-19 consider gender in any explicit way, according to the latest. “Global Health 50/50 Report, ā€¯Published in 2021. But without acknowledging the possible impact of the crisis on different genders and ages, we can make very wrong choices. This is because decision makers, still mostly men, tend to forget about the vulnerable.

The closing schools during the pandemic, for example, it caused an educational gap for many children and adolescents. Governments are working to make education as open as possible, but many have paid less attention to the fact that for millions of children, school lunch was the only daily meal. Many countries have not even started planning or even thinking about how to reach those hungry children when schools continue to close.

In 2022, we will also see the long-term consequences of a shadow pandemic in global health care other than Covid. As hospital systems continue to focus on Covid-19 vaccination and treatment, routine immunization due to many diseases (which are already forgotten in the western world) and the necessary access to maternal health care services have been pushed aside. As a result of the pandemic, for example, 39 percent of the 124 countries surveyed reported a decline in coverage by family planning services, and 38 percent reported a decline in coverage of prenatal and postnatal maternal health services.

Even before the pandemic, our world was not on track to achieve several Sustainable development goals (established in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by 2030) in relation to women and children. Quarantine and reallocation of resources in 2020 and 2021 have exacerbated this situation. And combined with other crises affecting much of the world – ongoing conflicts, climate change, economic slowdowns – they will lead to many more people, including women and children, suffering from ill health, malnutrition and hunger.

As the rate of Covid-19 infection decreases, thanks to the successful introduction and download of vaccines, in 2022 we will pay much more attention to this shadow pandemic and its consequences. It will not be frowning that it can speak loudly and openly about the side effects of some of the policy measures we have introduced in the fight against the virus. We will see that we have no choice but to allocate local and global resources, such as nutritious food and continuing health services, to those most in need. And we will all have to work on preventing further damage to these vulnerable groups and repairing the damage done so far.

Get more expert predictions for next year. WIRED World in 2022 contains the intelligence and insights you need to know that come from the smartest minds in the WIRED network. Available now at newsstands, such as a digital download, or you can order your copy online.

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