Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise sharply in East Asia and the Pacific. In total, 15,168,274 positive cases and 312,408 deaths have been confirmed in the region, with Indonesia (4.26 million cases), Philippines (2.84 million cases), Malaysia (2.75 million cases) and Thailand (2.22 million cases) being the most affected.
An additional 601 children aged 6 to 59 months were provided with treatment for severe acute malnutrition and 1.7 million children and adolescents with messages on healthy diets. UNICEF also provided 18.3 million children and adolescents with messages on healthy diets.
UNICEF supported 188,970 schools to implement safe school protocols and 34 million children with access to formal or non-formal education, including early learning.
Situation in Numbers
15,168,274 confirmed COVID-19 cases and
1,711,350 additional children with SAM due to COVID-19
6.9 million children are not immunized against measles
369 million people lack access to basic hygiene services
144 million children/adolescents lack access to education
Regional Funding Overview
In 2021, UNICEF appealed for US$ 117.2 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children, adolescents and women affected by emergencies, including chronic, protracted humanitarian situations as well as UNICEF’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region. So far, a total of US$ 98.5 million has been received against the 2021 HAC (including US$ 33.8 million carried over from 2020 and US$ 64.7 received in 20211 from donors, including the Governments of Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America, European Commission, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, CERF, Global Partnership for Education, Gavi, Solidarity Fund, United Nations Office for South South Cooperation, several private donors and UNICEF committees in Australia, Belgium, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, and the USA. UNICEF acknowledges the generous contribution of donors including private sectors supporting this joint effort to respond and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies in the EAP region. Please refer to Annex B and Annex C for more detailed information on funding per functional area and country.
In addition, UNICEF has received US$90.7 million for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in East Asia and Pacific for 2021 in response to the Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A)/COVAX appeal. The ACT-A / COVAX HAC appeal which was launched and is managed globally complements the EAP Regional HAC appeal by supporting country readiness for COVID-19 vaccine roll out, together with WHO and Gavi, while supporting the strengthening of health systems. This includes providing commodities needed for safe vaccine administration, such as cold chain equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), and hand hygiene (soap and hand sanitizer), operational costs for vaccine delivery and associated technical assistance. Crucially, this also includes support for vaccine delivery to humanitarian populations. The seven support areas are in alignment with the categories of National Deployment and Vaccination Plans and include: planning and coordination, prioritization and targeting, service delivery, training, monitoring and evaluation, vaccine cold-chain and logistics, communication and community engagement. Funding and results from the ACT-A / COVAX HAC appeal are reported through a separate global ACTA situation report.
Regional Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Driven by the Omicron variant, the number of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 in EAP continued to rise during the reporting period. Since the start of the pandemic, 15.2 million positive cases and 312,408 deaths have been confirmed in the region, with Indonesia (4.3 million cases), Philippines (2.8 million cases), Malaysia (2.7 million cases) and Thailand (2.2 million cases) being the most affected. Countries across the region continued to vaccinate their populations against COVID-19. Nevertheless, the pandemic and related control measures including movement restrictions continue to disrupt access to essential health, nutrition, and social services and to drive steep declines in household incomes. The detection of the Omicron variant across the region alerted countries to tighten border control and reimpose restrictions and preventive measures. The prices of food and daily commodities have also increased, with many households struggling with unemployment and loss of income due to the persistent pandemic situation.
A combined approach of supporting vaccine roll-out while continuing to focus on efforts to contain the spread of the virus and respond to the social-economic impacts of the pandemic remains critical to save lives and alleviate suffering, especially for children. According to UNICEF’s latest regional report on child nutrition, overall household incomes and a reduction in the availability and accessibility of nutritious foods led to a shift in many families’ lifestyles and dietary habits as well as rises in both overweight and undernutrition are predicted. Access to health and nutrition services were severely disrupted multiple times over successive waves of pandemic-related lockdowns.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it becomes ever more urgent to ensure delivery of safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Across the region, 89 million people do not have basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home4 . More than half of the schools in the region did not have hand-washing facilities with soap and water available to students, and more than 6 out of 10 health care facilities in East Asia and Pacific lacked functional handwashing facilities with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Therefore, increasing handwashing with soap in all settings while improving WASH access through direct provision of supplies and strengthening systems for services remained an important response strategy.
Rising COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant in late 2021 meant a slow reopening of schools across the region. As of 31 December 2021, schools in the East Asia and Pacific region were fully open in seventeen countries (China, Cook Islands, DPRK, Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga and Vanuatu), and partially open in another nine (Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam). Following one of the longest school closures in the world, the Philippines have reopened 256 schools (less than 1% of the total) as a pilot test for a future broader reopening process. However, the school reopening plans were disrupted in areas hit by Super Typhoon Rai (locally known as Odette) in December 2021. Meanwhile, remote learning options, including blended learning, remain in place in most of the countries across the region.
The adverse socio-economic impact of the pandemic continues to drive millions of children into extreme destitution and livelihood insecurity. As the third and strongest wave of COVID-19 in the region continued to spread in the last quarter of 2021, several EAP countries adjusted the duration of some social protection schemes accordingly, and/or erected new programmes to protect livelihoods during this period after previous temporary schemes were ceased.
Across the region, recurring natural disasters, including those induced by climate crises, continued to constrain the socio-economic recovery from the pandemic. Typhoon Rai, which swept through the Philippines on 16 December, further exacerbated the vulnerability of children and their families who have already been struggling to cope with the devastating consequences of COVID-19. In Myanmar, the continuing armed conflict and targeted violence, coupled with the presence of COVID-19, is pushing a growing number of children into a situation of humanitarian needs. Further details on the situation in the Philippines and Myanmar can be found in separate situation reports dedicated to their respective UNICEF HAC appeals.