More than 1.5 million children in 21 countries, including 1,19,000 in India, lost their primary and secondary caregivers to COVID-19 during the first 14 months of the pandemic, according to research published in The Lancet.
The study financed in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), COVID-19 claimed the lives of 25,500 children in India, 90,751 fathers, and 12 who lost both parents.
The countries with the highest number of children who lost primary caregivers (parents or custodial grandparents) include South Africa, Peru, United States, India, Brazil, and Mexico, it said. The countries with rates of Covid-associated deaths among primary caregivers (>1/1000 children) include Peru, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Iran, United States, Argentina, and Russia, it added.
“Though the trauma a child experiences after the loss of a parent or caregiver can be devastating, there are evidence-based interventions that can prevent further adverse consequences, such as substance use, and we must ensure that children have access to these interventions,” said NIDA Director Nora D Volkow. According to the report, 2,898 Indian children lost either of their custodial grandparents while nine lost both of their custodial grandparents.
However, the 0.5 rate of loss of primary and custodial parents per 1,000 children in India is much less than other countries like South Africa (6.4), Peru (14.1), Brazil (3.5), Colombia (3.4), Mexico (5.1), Russia (2.0), and the US (1.8).
“When examining how variations by sex and age in deaths and average numbers of children influenced estimates of paternal versus maternal orphans, we found that, except for South Africa, deaths were greater in men than women in every country, particularly in middle-aged and older parents,” the report said.
First Published: IST