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According to a Lancet report, the pandemic orphaned 1.2 lakh children in India and over 10 lakh worldwide.

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Thursday, 22nd July 2021

According to estimates in a new study published in The Lancet, as many as 1.19 lakh children in India lost their primary caregiver (parent or custodial grandparent) due to COVID-19, putting the country third after Mexico (1.4 lakh) and Brazil (1.3 lakh).

Between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021, this figure stood at 11.34 lakh globally.

There were 10.42 lakh children who lost either their mother or father, with India accounting for 1.16 lakh.

The study estimated pandemic-related orphanhood and caregiver deaths based on excess mortality and deaths from 21 countries that accounted for 764 percent of global deaths between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021. It then applied its findings to create global extrapolations. Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control's COVID-19 Response Team, Imperial College London, the University of Oxford, and the World Bank, among others, participated in the study.

Around the world, more than 15 lakh children had lost at least one primary caregiver or a co-residing grandparent. For India, this figure was 1.86 lakh.

Despite ranking third in absolute numbers, India's rate of primary caregiver loss per 1,000 children, at 0.3, was much lower than that of South Africa (51%), Mexico (35%), Brazil (24%), Colombia (23%), Iran (17%), the United States (15%), Argentina (11) and Russia (10).

There were up to five times as many children with deceased fathers as children with living mothers. In India, for example, an estimated 25,500 children lost their mother, 90,751 their father, and 12 children both parents.

According to the study, the rapid increase in COVID-19-associated deaths in India from February to April 2021 was associated with an 85-fold increase in the number of children orphaned or losing caregivers in April compared to March.

The study emphasises that such children are at a higher risk of family separation and institutionalisation, and it recommends investments in strengthening family-based care, whether through kinship, foster care, or adoption, with the help of a surviving caregiver.


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The Hindu


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