Over 1.2 lakh children lost a parent to COVID-19 in India

Photo: UNICEF/Panjwani

Over 1.2 lakh children in India have lost a parent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Lancet study estimated.

From March 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, 25,500 children in India lost their mother to COVID-19 while 90,751 lost their father and 12 lost both their parents.

Mexico (1.41 lakh) and Brazil (1.30 lakh) have the highest number of children who have lost a primary caregiver, followed by India.

Globally, over 15 lakh children are estimated to have experienced the death of at least one parent or a custodial or a co-residing grandparent, or other older relative.

“For every two COVID-19 deaths worldwide, one child is left behind to face the death of a parent or caregiver. By April 30, 2021, these 1.5 million children had become the tragic overlooked consequence of the 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide…,” said Dr Susan Hillis, one of the lead authors, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Covid-19 Response Team.

645 children lost their parents to COVID-19 from Apr-May 28 during second wave: Ministry

A total of 645 children lost their parents to COVID-19 from April to May 28 this year during the second wave, the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry said Thursday.

Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani gave data on the children orphaned during the second wave of COVID-19, in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, PTI news agency reported.

The highest number of such children was reported from Uttar Pradesh at 158 followed by Andhra Pradesh at 119, Maharashtra at 83 and Madhya Pradesh at 73.

Irani also said that the States and UTs have been jointly requested by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of School Education & Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education to ensure continuity of education of the children who have lost their parents in the COVID-19 pandemic, while accommodating them under the various schemes being run by DoSEL.

She further said that the Prime Minister has announced a scheme to support the children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian or adoptive parents due to the pandemic.

“The scheme provides support for education and health and will create a corpus of ₹10 lakh for each child when he or she reaches 18 years of age. This corpus will be used to give a monthly financial support/ stipend form 18 years of age, for the next five years to take care of his or her personal requirements during the period of higher education and on reaching the age of 23 years, he or she will get the corpus amount as one lump-sum for personal and professional use,” minister said.

The updated health bulletin says that 507 Indians lost their lives due to Covid in past 24 hours. The country’s total COVID-19 death toll is 419,021.

But the true death toll is believed to be far higher. A good number of local media outlets have reported discrepancies between official state tallies of the dead and actual numbers of bodies in crematoriums and burial grounds.