COVID-19: Odisha to care for children whose parents are hospitalsed

Centre had asked states to rehabilitate COVID-19 orphans, social workers pointed out need to broadbase

By Priya Ranjan Sahu
Published: Monday 10 May 2021
Children at an Indian village. Representative photo: CSE

The Odisha government recently said it would care for children whose parents had to be hospitalised due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), apart from rehabilitating those orphaned.

The state Women and Child Development and Mission Shakti department May 8, 2021 appointed joint secretary Rega Geetarani Pattanayak as nodal officer to identify children orphaned by COVID-19 and make long-term arrangements for them.

Aravind Agrawal, the state’s director for Integrated Child Development Services and Social Welfare, wrote to district collectors May 7 to immediately identify at least one child-care institution (CCI) in their district as a fit facility to support children whose parents have been hospitalised:  

All hospitals and COVID-19 care facilities in the district may be informed regarding the arrangement (of taking care of children) and the contact details of child welfare committee members, designated CCI and Childline number (1098) may be prominently displayed at the reception of the hospital or COVID-19 care facility. Reception of the COVID-19 facility may guide the patients regarding this arrangement.

He added that a notice might be issued in local language to guide people regarding the rehabilitation of orphan children and children of hospitalised parents. The 1098 number should be displayed at other prominent places too.

Agrawal May 4 had asked the collectors to rehabilitate children orphaned by COVID-19, in line with a communication from the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.  Social activists working on the ground, however, pointed out that children of parents infected and hospitalised need care and protection too.

COVID-19 was not just a health issue, ActionAid India’s Ghasiram Panda said. Its socio-economic aspects were adversely affecting children and making them vulnerable. Panda said that apart from orphans, other children also needed support because their parents were in home isolation or hospitalised. He added that:

We raised the issue and we are thankful to Agrawal that he issued a new circular for including children of infected people in home isolation or hospitalisation in the process of rehabilitation.

Odisha’s COVID-19 situation is still better than many other major states. However, there has been a remarkable spike in cases in recent weeks. What’s alarming is the fact that the virus has spread to most rural areas of the state where access to healthcare is inadequate.

It has reported more than 10,000 cases for the past three days amid a testing-positivity over 20 per cent, according to private aggregator Covid19india.org.

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