As India battles with the second wave of COVID-19, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is supporting India's Covid-19 response. The second wave is larger and is spreading more rapidly than the first and is affecting people across all age groups including children and infants.
The new wave has posed a significant impact on the lives of children in India in terms of access to essential health, social, protection, and education services, which are now constrained. The pandemic numbers have now started to plummet though it is still far from over, therefore, India continues to work with support agencies and take preventive action to contain it. The call for greater action has been continuously supported by UNICEF at the forefront.
UNICEF is working with its partner agencies in India to:
- Increase access to life-saving oxygen by procuring and installing oxygen generation plants in hospitals to treat severe and critical COVID-19 cases;
- Provide rapid, accurate testing machines in some of the most affected districts;
- Support communities and essential workers to weather this storm and prevent further disruption to outreach programmes and services for children.
UNICEF has also been sending face shields and surgical masks, to keep frontline workers safe as they work rigorously given the surge in cases. The agency supplied COVID-19 testing machines, which form a crucial part of the response to the pandemic. Moreover, it has supported the procurement and installation of 25 oxygen plants for hospitals in the northeast and Maharashtra.
At the central level, UNICEF and its partners continue to support the Government of India in the acceleration of its national vaccine rollout to equitably reach all population groups currently eligible. It is working on the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine communication strategy across the country, intensifying community engagement and social mobilization. UNICEF along with its partner agencies have procured special refrigerators as part of cold chain strengthening and COVID-19 vaccine introduction in India since vials of the vaccine have to pack at cold temperatures to ensure they remain effective when administered.
Alongside providing support to the healthcare system in India, UNICEF is also supporting the Government of India in ensuring critical services for the most vulnerable children continue functioning.
Since the incidence of the pandemic in India, UNICEF has played a key role in stopping the spread of COVID-19, including by sharing information with more than 660 million people on how to stay safe from the coronavirus. It has been continuously working to counter misinformation and promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviours, including wearing masks, physical distancing, and handwashing. Moreover, it continues to create new media content weekly in a multitude of regional languages for broadcast on digital channels and media, especially at the state level.