More than 1.19 lakh children in India lost their primary or secondary caregivers due to Covid-19 between March 2020 and April 2021, a study published in medical journal Lancet showed on Tuesday. Primary caregivers refer to parents, while secondary includes grandparents.
Of the total numbers, 90,751 children lost their fathers, while 25,500 children lost their mothers to the coronavirus infection. Twelve children lost both their parents, the study showed.
The study, funded in part by United States’ National Institute on Drug Abuse, showed that more than 15 lakh children across 21 countries lost their primary and secondary caregivers in the first 14 months of the pandemic.
Apart from India, at least one in every 1,000 children in Peru, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Iran, United States, Argentina and Russia had to experience deaths of their primary caregivers, the study added.
The Lancet study said that children who are orphaned or lose their caregivers often face adverse consequences such as poverty, abuse and institutionalisation. “Children losing primary caregivers have higher risks of experiencing mental health problems, physical, emotional and sexual violence, and family poverty,” according to the study.
The data for children who lost either or both their parents in India is significantly higher than the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ data submitted to the Supreme Court last month.
Citing data from its portal, Bal Swaraj, the child rights body told the Supreme Court in June that 7,464 children have lost one parent, 1,742 have been orphaned and 140 were abandoned. The total number of children who lost at least at least one parent due to Covid-19 or were abandoned is 9,346, according to the child rights body.
In a later hearing on the petition, the Supreme Court had instructed all state governments and Union Territories to act against any entity indulging in illegal adoption of children orphaned due to Covid-19.