India: Struggling for breath | UNICEF Canada: For Every Child Skip to main content

It is April 30, 2021 and by the time you finish reading this, more than 7 people in India will have lost their life to COVID-19. Throughout the country, the pandemic rages on; spreading rapidly and wreaking havoc for so many families. Imagine, two lives every minute are tragically gone. The scenes are devastating. 

Cases continue to surge at unprecedented rates, with more than four new cases reported every second. In fact, in the last 24 hours, India again recorded the highest-ever daily count of new cases, in any country, at any stage of this global pandemic.

A crisis for children

In India and throughout the world, children have become the hidden victims of the pandemic – pushed into poverty, losing their education, facing heightened risk of abuse or exploitation, or experiencing the terror of seeing caregivers fall ill or die. This new surge in COVID-19 cases has seen a brutal impact on them. More young people including children, are falling ill to this deadly disease.  

Across cities and small towns children and families saw the collapse of livelihoods as an estimated 122 million workers lost their jobs during the first wave of COVID-19 and associated lockdown measures, driving poverty and malnutrition. 286 million children were left out of school and in the first weeks of the pandemic, reports of violence against children rose by 50 per cent. 

Need of the hour

It is overwhelming to see the situation in hospitals and health centres. They are running out of beds; essential drugs are in short supply and critical oxygen is running low in many places. I think back to my visit to a hospital in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. I remember seeing the children there, meeting and marvelling at the work of community health workers in the city. The situation now, makes me certain that we must act to protect and strengthen those health systems. 

What we need to do to help is clear.   

  • Increase access to life-saving medical oxygen to treat severe and critical COVID-19 cases;
  • Provide rapid and accurate testing machines in some of the most affected districts;
  • Support communities and essential workers to help maintain critical programs for children;
  • And support the ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

How UNICEF is stepping up

Thanks to UNICEF’s established supply chains and expert teams in 14 offices across India, we are working with local authorities and partners, to procure and distribute these life-saving essentials. 

These critical supplies include, personal protective equipment, ventilators, hospital beds, oxygen cylinders in hospitals as well as RT-PCR testing machines to speed up identification of new COVID-19 cases. We are also playing a leading role in the ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and supporting communities and essential workers to prevent further disruption to services for children.

How you can help

As we continue to work together to get the entire world beyond this pandemic, we need to address the mounting need in India. No one is safe until everyone is safe. This COVID crisis will have an impact on the lives of the current generation of children in India, today and in their future. That’s why each one of us must play our part now, in making sure people in India have all they need to overcome this brutal crisis.

Your support can help communities and essential workers weather this storm. Please donate today. 


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