UNICEF responding to COVID-19 in India

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A shipment of oxygen concentrators pictured in Delhi in September 2020. As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, there is a rapidly growing need for more essential medical equipment such as ventilators and oxygen concentrators. © UNICEF/UNI370575/Vishwanathan

India is being hit by a devastating new wave of COVID-19 cases. UNICEF is working with partners to support the response.

A deadly surge in COVID-19 cases is placing an enormous strain on health and critical care facilities in India. This second wave of the pandemic is larger and spreading more rapidly than the first, and is leaving vulnerable families paying a particularly steep price. The latest surge is also affecting more people across age groups including children and infants.

UNICEF has already sent critical lifesaving supplies including oxygen concentrators, diagnostic tests and emergency equipment to help India in its battle with COVID-19. But more support is urgently needed to save lives.

This latest surge will have dire consequences for children in India whose access to essential health, social, protection and education services will be constrained. But it is also a reminder that the pandemic is far from over and will continue to pose a threat to all of us unless we continue to work together and take life-saving preventive measures to contain it.

UNICEF is continuing to work with partners 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.

Join UNICEF to support lifesaving supplies and services to protect families and communities in India.

UNICEF’s support

UNICEF and partners are doing everything they can to keep children and their families safe and healthy. UNICEF has provided oxygen supplies and other critically needed emergency equipment to support the immediate response, while also supporting resilience-building against recurrent shocks and stresses to the health system that leave children and their families at risk.

Working with partners, UNICEF has sent additional critical lifesaving supplies, including 2 million face shields and 200,000 surgical masks, to keep frontline workers safe as they work around the clock responding to the surge in cases.

UNICEF has supplied COVID-19 testing machines, which form a crucial part of the response to the pandemic. UNICEF is also supporting the procurement and installation of 25 oxygen plants for hospitals in the northeast and in Maharashtra.

UNICEF and partners are continuing to support the Government of India in the acceleration of its national vaccine rollout to equitably reach all population groups.

UNICEF has continued to provide support to the Government of India and its partners in the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine communication strategy across the country, intensifying community engagement and social mobilization.

Vials of the COVID-19 vaccine have to be carefully packed at cold temperatures to ensure they remain effective when administered, part of the so-called cold chain – a series of precisely coordinated events in temperature-controlled environments to store, manage and transport these life-saving products. UNICEF and partners have procured special refrigerators as part of cold chain strengthening and COVID-19 vaccine introduction in India.

While providing urgent support to the healthcare system, UNICEF has also been assisting the Government of India in ensuring critical services for the most vulnerable children continue functioning. For example, UNICEF is providing technical support to the government and partners to help ensure that 12.3 million children across 17 states are able to continue learning from home.

Since the start of the pandemic, UNICEF has been working with partners in India to help stop the spread of COVID-19, including by sharing information with more than 660 million people on how to stay safe from the coronavirus.

UNICEF has consistently worked to counter misinformation and promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviours, including wearing masks, physical distancing, and handwashing. New multimedia content is produced weekly in multiple languages for broadcast on digital channels and media, especially at the state level.

The latest surge is having dire consequences for children whose access to essential health, social, protection and education services is being constrained. Children are facing mental health issues and are at greater risk of violence as lockdowns shut them off from their vital support networks. They are missing out on lifesaving routine immunizations, critical care and treatment for pneumonia and other diseases.

UNICEF needs $21 million for the urgent delivery of additional testing equipment, supplies and oxygen products in India, and more than $50 million for lifesaving COVID-19 interventions across sectors.

Donate to help UNICEF continue to support the response in India