COVID-19 pandemic response
UNICEF has been a part of the COVID-19 emergency response from the start. UNICEF is working closely with the Government of India, WHO and other UN agencies towards a one UN action plan.
The COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the entire world continues to spread in several countries even as governments are vaccinating their people on a war footing. New variants have emerged, challenging the medical and scientific fraternity in more ways than one. Even the most powerful economies had to face hardships brought about by the lockdowns and closing of borders.
The first COVID-19 case in India was reported in Thrissur, Kerala, on 30 January 2020. By the end of March 2020, the number of confirmed cases had gone up to 1000. The Government of India imposed a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the disease and further extended it untilJuly 2020. While India ramped up its health care infrastructure during this period, there was a downward trend by the end of September 2020. India also launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive on 16 January 2021. However, new variants were detected, which propelled India into a second wave that was much worse.
By June 2021, India has been again to reduce the number of COVID cases in the country. This decrease has been possible because of continued vaccination drive, massive information campaigns, lockdowns and people again religiously following CAB. As a result, the number of positive cases has reached a historical low by the end of August 2021.
UNICEF has been working very closely with the Government of India to push vaccination drive across India and also make sure people adhere to COVID-19 appropriate behaviours.
UNICEF’s Programmatic Response
UNICEF has been a part of the COVID-19 emergency response right from the start. Working closely with the Government of India, UNICEF acted fast, was flexible and open to learning, adopted a multi-sectoral approach and worked together with WHO and other UN agencies towards a one UN action plan. The objectives of UNICEF were two-fold:
Pillar 1 - Public health measures aimed at containing the pandemic and minimizing its morbidity and mortality, and
Pillar 2 - Ensure continuity of essential life-saving Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) services for mothers and children, focusing on the most vulnerable communities.
Pillar 1- COVID-19 response consisted of the following activities.
Under Pillar- 2, UNICEFs main focus was to restore maternal and child health services, including adolescent health, routine immunization and home-based care for the newborn. Key activities included:
Impact of UNICEF supported working during 2020
- About 660 million children and their families across India have been reached with accurate information on how to stay safe from COVID-19 through a mix of regular and innovative channels.
- UNICEF has prioritized addressing misinformation and communal tensions to ensure communities continue to observe physical and social distancing while social cohesion is valued and that discrimination does not become further entrenched.
- Four million people have been regularly sharing concerns and seeking clarifications on COVID-19 through established feedback mechanisms.
- 61.8 million people have been engaged in activities that facilitate two-way communication, meaningful participation and local action on COVID-19 through digital and non-digital platforms related to the various elements of the response.
- 3.6 million people across India were reached with critical WASH supplies (including hygiene items) and services.
- 2.5 million healthcare facility staff and community health workers got trained in Infection Prevention and Control.
- Biannual IPC assessments were done in 256 health facilities covering 50 aspirational districts.WASH assessments have been conducted for health care facilities and quarantine centres. UNICEF worked with state governments to adapt existing schemes during the lockdown to ensure that essential health and nutrition services continued.
- 34,700 healthcare workers within health facilities and communities were provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Over 333,000 children and their caregivers have been provided with psychosocial support as a result of UNICEF’s support, including training of child protection functionaries and counsellors together with the Government.
- 19.7 million children and women receiving essential healthcare, including prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care, essential newborn care, immunization, treatment of childhood illnesses, and HIV care in UNICEF supported facilities.
- 1.48 million healthcare providers trained in detecting, referral and appropriate management of COVID-19 cases.
- 102,400 children (6-59 months) were admitted for treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
Co-ordination with states
UNICEF India Country Office (ICO) worked closely with all states across India to procure emergency medical supplies, for supportive supervision of COVID-19 facilities, to provide psychosocial support, and to the roll-out of Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) activities.
UNICEF supported states in their epidemic response, planning and forecasting the use of commodities and resources for COVID-19, migrant tracking, and identifying high-risk containment zones using real-time data monitoring.
Apart from these COVID-19 specific activities, UNICEF India supported advocacy towards the formulation of state-specific guidelines and the implementation of national guidelines for the resumption of RMNCH+A services. This RMNCH+A is a comprehensive strategy for improving the maternal and child health outcomes.
To know about UNICEF's COVID-19 response in detail, please visit this website. The website hosts information related to COVID-19 response in all states in India, interesting infographics and video and photo stories from across India
Coordination with Donors and Partners
UNICEF's COVID-19 response would not have been possible without the support of several institutional donors
and corporate partners who contributed resources of various kinds including generous financial support. UNICEF India expresses its sincere gratitude to the its donors and partners.
In 2020, UNICEF forged a plethora of partnerships that have opened up several opportunities to improve the reach of our work. UNICEF is very grateful for such partnerships with various professional associations and academic institutions that have ensured timely delivery of COVID-19 response as well as in resuming RMNCH+A services.
UNICEF also acknowledges the contributions of several NGOs, CBOs, and CSOs who have ensured the last mile service delivery and have been our eyes and ears on the ground during this unprecedented year.