Covid-19 in India: Millions of children risk being pushed into poverty and hunger
The health crisis in India threatens to worsen the lives of millions of children. Save the Children is concerned for the children affected by this 'Covid Tsunami' and fears that the future of girls and boys will be dramatically affected by the loss of their loved ones, increasing poverty, an overburdened health system and the complete cessation of their schooling.
The Covid-19 pandemic is currently hitting the Indian population hard. We are concerned that children will be greatly affected by the consequences of this crisis, now and in the future.
Dramatic Covid-19 situation
The Covid-19 pandemic is plunging India into a health crisis with more than 300,000 new infections reported daily in recent days.
Health system on the brink of collapse
The situation is particularly difficult in the big cities. There is a shortage of medicines, hospital beds and oxygen cylinders to ventilate patients.
Children are particularly affected
Children are suffering the most from the consequences of this crisis: their families are without income, millions of them are falling below the poverty line. The pandemic has set back progress in the fight against poverty. And without education, children will not be better off in the future.
With the number of deaths surpassing 200,000 this week, strict lockdowns could control the spread of virus, but also risks pushing many children and their families into poverty, Save the Children said. Research published last month found that India’s poverty rate could rise by up to 0.6% with limited control measures in place for at least 12 months, and by almost 7% if strict control measures are introduced. Several states in India have imposed strict lockdowns in a bid to control the virus.
While children are at a lower risk of contracting COVID-19, they are not immune to the consequences as their families, teachers, and community leaders are infected and unable to support them. India already has the largest population facing food shortages in the world, with an estimated 189 million people in India already undernourished before the pandemic began. Save the Children fears that due to the impact of the pandemic, these shortages might increase further.
189 Million people in India were already undernourished before the pandemic
Dramatic situation: a mutation of the coronavirus is circulating in India and can evade the immune system more easily than previously known mutations. However, experts say the bigger problem is that there are simply too many new infections per day – most recently, more than 300,000 new cases were reported in 24 hours, for six consecutive days. India’s already unstable health system is overwhelmed and can barely cope with the rapid increase in new Covid 19 patients.
Severe impact on the nutritional situation
Rising poverty, a lack of access to food and the stretched health system could have a devastating effect on millions of children, Save the Children warned. Children who are sick might not get the treatment they need because hospitals are overwhelmed by Covid cases, and children might be forced to drop out of school and find work to supplement lost family incomes.
Children who are out of school run a higher risk of falling victim to forms of abuse such as child marriage, child labour and exploitation, the charity warned.
new cases per day have occurred in the last 6 days.
“As the crisis in India continues to spiral out of control, its impact on children is growing ever more serious. The surge in COVID-19 infections is forcing strict lockdown measures that have left many families without a source of income, pulling millions of children below the poverty line, and the poorest into even deeper poverty. Lockdowns are necessary to control the spread of the virus, but there are unavoidable consequences to the control measures, which will have lasting impacts on children and families.
Save the Children in India has been working closely with government ministries to respond to the crisis by generating awareness on prevention, control measures and vaccinations, and is also working on protecting children from exploitation, child labour and child marriage. The organisation plans to step up its health programmes to provide life-saving medical support such as quarantine centres, ambulances, food and psychosocial support for children.
Save the Children is also advocating for public acceptance of COVID-19 safety measures and it is leading awareness raising campaigns to encourage 18–45-year-olds to take the vaccine, when they’re eligible for vaccination starting on 1 May.