Children and young people did not have access to specific and well-structured actions that would mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, points out a new survey that includes Brazilian authors. Although they were not a higher risk group for severe cases of the disease, the health crisis had different effects on younger people.
Published this Sunday (25), the study is a partnership between universities in Brazil, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Financing agencies in these countries, such as FAPESP, provided resources for the research. USP is the Brazilian institution that participated in the survey, and one of the researchers is Leandro Giatti, a professor at the university’s School of Public Health.
He explains that “although young people are not the focus of Covid concern because they are not a risk group for more severe cases, they have very different forms of impact”. So, the authors focused on the difficulties of access to education, healthy food and leisure among those aged 10 to 24, taking into account the Covid-19 pandemic. Data from around the world were collected, and there was also a focus on the three main countries of the study.
About education, for example, many children had problems to continue their studies because of the schools that closed. Among the poorest, it was even more critical because it was difficult to access the internet and digital equipment.
Food consumption was also another issue. “In Brazil, school meals are an important part of children’s daily calorie intake”, says Giatti. Restriction to leisure, an important aspect in child development, was yet another impacted axis among minors.
With the three aspects defined, the authors compiled what were the answers to mitigate such circumstances. For this, articles, reports and other publications were reviewed. It was observed that some general public policies, without necessarily being aimed at young people, resulted in positive outcomes for them.
This is the case of emergency aid in Brazil. Financial aid provided by the federal government has helped with access to food for eligible families, which includes young people.
However, the researchers concluded that there has not been, basically worldwide, a targeted and adequate response to the problems faced by this age group. “What actually appears to us is that there was no serious and well-elaborated preparation to meet the needs of young people”, summarizes the USP professor.
For him, it is important that the scenario changes. In case of a new health emergency, public policies aimed at younger people need to be better structured in advance in order to avoid problems associated with Covid-19 among children and young people.
The published report is the first stage of the study. Now, the researchers are already carrying out a new phase that consists of talking directly with young people from peripheral regions of the three main countries: Brazil, United Kingdom and South Africa.
In Brazil, the communities of Paraisópolis and Heliópolis, both in the city of São Paulo, are part of the survey. Giatti says that, in dialogue with young people from these regions, it is possible to observe how local community initiatives sought to remedy the difficulties experienced due to the health crisis.
He cites the example of the figure of the street president implemented in Paraisópolis. “He helped to verify that people were managing to isolate themselves, if they were food insecure and helped with food distribution, helped to direct people who were occasionally infected and needed treatment.”
For him, actions like these need to be better understood by the government to serve as a learning experience in the construction of public policies. “These are local potentialities that public policy managers are often unaware of.”