Children bear the brunt of Covid-19 pandemic
Dimapur, June 30 (EMN): Amidst the ongoing second wave of Covid-19, speculations about a third wave and it possible impact on children has become a matter of concern among the public.
However, according to the Indian Academy of Paediatrician (IAP), there is no evidence indicating that children would be severely affected by the disease in the third wave.
This situation has also drawn the attention of state’s Child Protection Services under the department of Social Welfare as children are badly affected by the upheaval.
Director of Child Protection Services, Tosheli Zhimomi shared that the unprecedented spread of Covid-19 worldwide and the subsequent lockdown has affected everyone and it is not over yet with prediction of a third wave.
She described the pandemic as a ‘children’s rights crisis’.
“The closing down of schools and online mode (of education) has affected millions of children who have no access to digital platforms and internet since many of their parents have lost their jobs or livelihood and can’t afford to buy smart phones for their children’s education,” she said.
“Many more children are dying not because of Covid-19 but due to lack of basic medical care, healthcare facilities and nutrition due to lockdown,” she added.
The rise in the number of Covid deaths in the country and state has also left many children orphaned or with single parents. In such dire situation, she observed that many families resort to negative coping mechanism such as child labour, child marriage, illegal adoption and institutionalisation.
Zhimomi expressed concern over the rise in the number of children infected by Covid-19 as it presents a new challenge and commitment for the childcare service providers who are the first defence to protect the children.
The director said that the Child Protection Services has a mechanism in place such as Childline 1098, a 24/7 child helpline where anyone can call and report children who are in need of care and protection, and Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in all districts, who are the competent authority to deal with children in need of care and protection. They are required to give special attention to children affected during this pandemic, she said.
Another mechanism in place is the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU), which is available in almost all the police stations in the state, wherein cases of children in need of care and protection can be reported to them, who in turn will contact respective CWC.
A fully functional district child protection unit is also in place in all the districts to assist and facilitate the Childline, CWC, SJPU and Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in functioning and responding to the needs of the children affected or infected by Covid-19.
‘The CCIs in all the districts have been clearly instructed to follow all Covid norms and SOP while dealing with children and to make special quarantine rooms for newly admitted children, proper tuition teacher and healthcare workers in respective homes so that children are not deprived of education, nutrition and healthcare,’ she said.
However, she shared that in the event of a major crisis resulting in the increase of children affected or infected by Covid-19, ‘we need to build systems and referral mechanisms to protect them’.
“For that we need to closely work with the district administration, medical and education department in monitoring the situation. We also need community-based monitoring and reporting mechanisms to assess the impact and to provide protection to vulnerable populations. We also need to upgrade the standards of care and equipment in all CCIs. Now is the time to re-imagine a more sustainable and safer world for children,” she said.