Children are the forgotten victims of the pandemic. COVID has severely affected not just children's health but has caused many of them to drop out of school. Family incomes are badly hit and so is children's nutrition and health including timely immunisation. With lockdowns being relaxed, things will improve but will not get back to normal for a very long time – during which time lives, educations and futures will be lost. Help us protect our most vulnerable children. The pandemic has shown that every child is at risk. Let's reimagine our children's future. Join NDTV and UNICEF's special campaign, 'Reimagine Our Children's Future.'
The campaign aims to help protect the most vulnerable children affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Without immediate funding and key lifesaving interventions like health care, nutrition, and immunization, an additional 1,600 children could die in India everyday over the next six months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to weaken health systems and disrupt routine services. Without our interventions and investments – of ideas, resources and heart - these children will have no future. It is in our hands to ensure that these forgotten victims of a catastrophic global crisis are given a future.
Here are the Highlights of the #Reimagine Telethon:
We leave you with the song and its message, 'It's time to wake up'
Anjana Padmanabhan, Singer who won Indian Idol Junior in 2013 joins the #Reimagine telethon and talks about her experience of singing the song, 'Wake up time ho gaya ab hamare sapno ka' composed by Ricky Kej
Ricky Kej, Grammy wining composer on the #Reimagine telethon, he composed a special song for UNICEF that says it is time to wake up
Among all the problems we are facing on our planet, children's rights are basic. Even the present belongs to children and not just the future.
Riya, who made handwashing stations in her village joins the #Reimagine telethon
Earlier there were no resources and people would forget to wash hands. Now the handwashing station is outside the house so people first wash hands and then only step inside their house.
During the pandemic we were unable to go out. we would talk to friends over calls and made this station. Around 200-250 stations have been made. I made it here, my friend made it in their village
Riya, a young girl from the village of Nogava in Madhya Pradesh has set up Handwashing stations in her village
We need support to prevent malnutrition through diets, services & information, where families play a role. Second, where prevention fails, treatment needs to be ensured by the government. And finally, marketing of unhealthy foods needs strict vigilance so that the food environment is conducive for good health and healthy lifestyle: Vani Sethi, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF India
Three things need to be done. First, we need to prevent all forms of malnutrition through information access for ensuring good quality diets, nutrition services for children, the older siblings and their families, in their homes and in the communities nearby.
Second, when prevention fails treatment has to be ensured and mothers and children who are suffering from acute forms of malnutrition and severe forms of anemia need help close by. They cannot travel miles and miles to health facilities, which are already overcrowded and are responding to a health crisis to take care of the nutrition crisis. They need treatment in their vicinity.
And third and most important - all marketing of breastmilk substitutes, unhealthy nutrient poor quality foods needs to be tightened up. So strict vigilance and proactive role by the food business industry.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, schools were for shut in order to contain the transmission of the disease. However, this has affected 286 million learners many of whom may never be able to return to schools. The pandemic has also exposed the vast digital divide in the country. Only one in four children have access to digital devices and the internet. The children of scheduled tribes and scheduled caste communities have been among the worst affected by this learning crisis. Many of them were first-generation school goers. But here is a story of the school coming to the children's homes - thanks to the Odisha government, with support from UNICEF.
Priya Nair, Executive Director, Beauty & Personal Care, Hindustan Unilever Limited on #Reimagine telethon:
HUL was one of the first organizations that announced a hundred crore fund towards helping the nation fight the Coronavirus. And we did this in March of 2020. And we took a range of measures, the most important being that as the biggest soap manufacturer in the country, we really took the opportunity to donate almost two crore soaps to the vulnerable and more needy sections of our society. We partnered with UNICEF to actually distribute these soaps in over 18 states and support these vulnerable sections of the population to fight the pandemic. These soaps have reached the most remote parts of our country. Be it, you know, in the far Northeast of our country, or in tribal areas of central India, or the slums of our urban centers.
I think the second is really is between UNICEF and us, we developed a national mass media communication campaign, which was called 'Virus Ki Kadi Todo'. And this behavior change campaign really aimed to educate consumers about washing hands, what is the importance at that moment during the lockdown of staying at home, or to contribute generously towards the challenge of COVID, and the issues that many of our migrants were having across the country. This campaign reached almost 600 million people and actually had very strong results.
So, you know, we really are very delighted with our partnership with UNICEF over the years. They are our strategic partner in our initiatives to protect and safeguard the needs of children. We have announced an additional commitment of a million dollars towards these initiatives in wash, health, hygiene with UNICEF. And really our focus between HUL and UNICEF is to ensure that we address these real pressing issues and really leave no one behind in this entire challenge that faces many of our children and help really create a brighter, better future for our children.
India's immunisation programme is one the largest in the world, with vaccinations planned for more than 10 crore children and pregnant women every year. But the pandemic threatens to reverse hard-won progress in this area as there has been an alarming decline in the number of children receiving life saving vaccines because of the disruptions in the delivery of immunisation services. But it is a battle that people like Dole Singh have been fighting even before the pandemic hit.
I think good nutrition is good life: Basanta Kumar Kar, Recipient, Global Nutrition Leadership Award
During the pandemic we have realised the nutrition is also like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). During pandemic, nutrition disruption has happened. At anganwadis women would get ante-natal services, immunisation, vaccination and supplementary nutrition. Because of disruption there has been an effect on life and livelihood. Within that women and children are the hardest hit.
India has highest number of stunted children. 9.5 million children are severely malnourished who need to be referred to Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre but these have been impacted.
Unfortunately when the pandemic hit, entire health services came to standstill. Frontline workers are backbone of the system and the got involved in COVID response system. Amidst this, immunisation services came to a standstill. The risk is when essential services stop, our children are at a risk of preventable diseases like diarrhoea, pneumonia. Until immunisatioln services get on track, we are able to vaccinate everyone, we have a dangerous situation: Neeraj Jain, India Country Director, PATH
This is really a devastation and has caused devastating increase in acute malnutrition. Even before pandemic we had a pretty bad situation. This has made things worse: Dr Rajan Shankar, Director, Nutrition, TATA Trust
India has the infrastructure. There is not a single state where we have not seen progress. Somewhere it is slow and somewhere better. But with the nutrition infrastructure that the country has created and programmes and policies in place, why are we not making faster in terms of improvement? This is because of implementation failure. This was targetted by the POSHAN Abhiyaan. But unfortunately, COVID has pushed everything back.
The pandemic has exposed huge disparities in the society. The scale of the problem is not just limited to one aspect of life. Disruptions to key services and increasing poverty pose the biggest threat to children: Sharmila Tagore, UNICEF Supporter & Actor
We have seen physical, mental, social, and economic effects on all sections of society, but they've been particularly accentuated in their impact on children: Dr K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India
We know that children can get infected, though often not very severe, but they can also carry infection to others. We know that as far as mental health is concerned, there can also be a significant impact because of social isolation, being unable to meet their peers and play with them. Then you are also seeing social ills like child marriages, child labor, then health services are also getting affected.
Immunization services are suffering, and we have seen sometimes immunization rates not being adequate. We see social services like mid-day meals in schools not being available, or there is inappropriate nutrition because the supply chains have broken down and you are only having ultra-processed food. And with low physical activity, you can also become obese in childhood. So, you can have malnutrition of both forms.
We are dealing with something unique, and that immunizing children is not the same business about providing a new vaccine to a completely different group of people, which is largely going to be adults. So to some extent the delivery machine, or when, and how, and where the COVID vaccine will be offered and administered, will not necessarily crash and overlap with what is the immunization schedule for children: Luigi D’Aquino, Chief of Health, UNICEF India
Vikas Srivastava, Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson India on #Reimagine telethon
Since 2008, we have partnered with Indian Academy of Pediatrics who address a critical concern in India, reducing infant mortality. And one of the leading causes of infant mortality is birth asphyxia, a condition where the newborn is deprived of oxygen at birth. Together we have developed this program called Neo-Natal Resuscitation, through which over 200,000 healthcare professionals have been trained. And it has led to ensuring that at every delivery, the attempt is to have one, at least one, healthcare worker trained in newborn care, and then resucitation so lives can be saved.
And together with this program and the other initiatives of the government, you've seen the reduction in infant mortality from 2008 to 2019, to half the levels that were there before. The other area program we've been doing since 2014, partnering with a leading NGO, is how do we provide health & education support to low income, pregnant women and new mothers. And we do this through their mobile phones, through free voice calls and free voice messages, which helps them to learn on topics of interest to them, which is feeding, hygiene, nutrition, and also keeping the appointments for the immunization and clinical appointments.
The crisis of child protection is not new. India has been a global leader in child labour, child marriage and trafficking long before pandemic. Pandemic has exacerbated it: Atiya Bose, Executive Director, Aangan
There are many concerns - education is primary. immunisation of children is another. You have issues of missing children, domestic violence, child marriages. There is no shortage of issues: Justice Madan Lokur, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India
There has to be continuous awareness programmes. Police has to be trained and educated on issues pertaining to children. Judiciary has to be trained and sensitised about rights of children. One thing is to know child labour is illegal, second is to tell people that it needs to stop. You have to go out of your way to stop it.
We have been able to train more than 1,50,000 frontline child protection workers and service providers on COVID risk mitigation strategies and their roles in preventing violence, exploitation, and abuse of children: Tannistha Datta, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF
Our kids need to keep learning at this time more than ever before: Shaheen Mistri, CEO, Teach For India
What's really getting in the way of learning is hardware and putting hardware in the hands of kids, especially kids from low income backgrounds. However tough it is, we need to do this. We need to raise the funds. We need to get hardware to them.
We need to figure out security on those devices. We need to figure out how to teach our kids in ways that not only continues their academic learning, but really finds ways to build culture, foster wellbeing, and really meet the needs that our kids have.
Leadership is really required today in this time, more than ever before. Our kids don't just have learning needs, they have wellbeing needs. They're worried, they're stressed. They're exposed to all of the issues of isolation. They're exposed to higher levels of violence. We need leaders for our children who will talk to them, who will listen to them, who will help them find solutions and who above all are going to do whatever it takes to keep them learning.
Since March UNICEF child helpline 1098 has received 3 million calls
I am committed to ending violence against children: Ayushmann Khurrana, UNICEF Celebrity Advocate
Sindhu Gangadharan, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, SAP Labs India on #Reimagine telethon:
SAP and UNICEF have a three-year partnership to ensure that we offer continuous education for children, and also looking at ways to augment and create innovative career pathways for youth across the country. And at SAP, we are absolutely convinced that digital inclusion is the foundation for equitable, as well as inclusive growth. Now together with UNICEF India, we will impart employable skills to over 1 million youth across the country. And together with UNICEF, we will also enable the youth with job specific skills, which will make them ready to meet the needs of the future workforce.
Further SAP will be part of Generation Unlimited, which is a platform incubated by UNICEF. And this will help us to support and create an ecosystem for youth empowerment. And the other highlight of this collaboration is to also support some of the key government initiatives, like for example, digital India.
UNICEF will support governments to address the digital divide so that every child can learn digitally. But those who cannot, who do not have these resources, we will reach out to them through other means - television, radio, other digital means, multiple partners and even outreach strategies: Suman Sachdeva, Education Specialist, UNICEF India
Suman Sachdeva, Education Specialist, UNICEF India on #Reimagine telethon
We need to focus on psycho-social healing, otherwise children will otherwise be afraid of school: Aditya Natraj, CEO, Kaivalya Education Foundation & Piramal School of Leadership
People are afraid. A case in point is a girl child whose father has lost his job during COVID. The girl doesn't know why her father is stressed. It is not just about learning. A child needs to feel safe and see hope in the future but the girl is not seeing it. Children's brain freeze and they are unable to learn. We need to look at their emotions.
Children are missing out on essential learning. There are chances that many of them especially girls are not likely to even go back to school: Kareena Kapoor Khan, UNICEF Celebrity Advocate
Anonymous donor donates Rs 50 lakh during the #Reimagine telethon
To help our vulnerable children affected by the COVID crisis, click on this link to donate:
Millions of children are losing on school hours and honing their talent. Children as a vulnerable community are at a higher risk and get pushed to child labour and trafficking: Trisha, UNICEF Celebrity Advocate
During the field trip organised by UNICEF, children discussed initiatives they have taken to overcome stigmatisation, raising awareness against COVID. From writing petition to Chief Minister to making short films using phones to dispel stigma against COVID-19 patients and share it on social media and WhatsApp.
Secondly, we need to end violence against children in school, institutions and communities. We need to act. This can happen not only by strengthening child protection but also addressing mental health issues. They need to feel safe.
Amitabh Bachchan, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador emphasises on the importance of immunisation and precautions to take during COVID pandemic to ensure children don't miss their vaccine doses
We are seeing that children still have aspiration and curiosity and it is important that we keep their hopes going: Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, Country Representative, UNICEF India
A big part of our work is supporting frontline warriors - teachers, sanitation workers , ASHA, anganwadi worker who are communicating the message and reminding people to wear mask, not go to crowded places and practice hand hygiene.
We worked closely with Ministry of Education at national and state levels to see children get access to remote learning. 41 million children have been reached. 20 million children are being given access to essential things.
We are identifying malnourished children to ensure they receive important services, get equipment for testing and focusing on psycho-social support.
Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, Country Representative, UNICEF India lays out how COVID is impacting children
As we celebrate World's Children Day (November 20), it was a stark reminder to address the child rights crisis. 11 % COVID cases are with children under 20. Children are directly affected. It is important to see how child rights are affected. Parents have lost livelihood and have moved to another place. 300 million children are not in school at the moment. Very small group is able to access online learning.
They don't have access to basic things. Fear and stigma is affecting the family. For all these reasons it is important to see children and the current effect can have a ripple effect. The fear is in a way silent.
About our #Reimagine telethon partner, UNICEF, which has been on the frontline of crisis response for over 70 years
Agenda of the #Reimagine telethon explained: Children's rights have been deeply impacted by the COVID crisis, be it education or immunisation We are all set for #Reimagine Telethon Safety first. PCR all set for the telethon
Watch Live a special 2-hour #Reimagine telethon to protect our most vulnerable children who have been put at even greater risk because of the pandemic
With the COVID-19 pandemic we need to ensure children receive proper healthcare, right nutrition and timely vaccines
Here's how the money raised through this campaign will be utilised.
Join NDTV and UNICEF's special campaign, 'Reimagine Our Children's Future'
We need to reimagine tomorrow, we need to reimagine our children's future. Without our interventions and investments - of ideas, resources and heart - these children will have no future.
It is in our hands to ensure that these forgotten victims of a catastrophic global crisis are given a future.
With the health, nutrition, immunisation, education, mental health and physical safety of our children severely impacted, COVID-19 has only made a bad situation even worse.
COVID is not just a health crisis. It is a child rights crisis, affecting children's lives in all ways imaginable.