Strengthen paediatric Covid-19 hospitals: NHRC to govts

Strengthen paediatric Covid-19 hospitals, provide psycho-social support to infected children: NHRC to govts

It has also urged the authorities to fill the remaining gaps in vaccination coverage of health workers and frontline staff

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the central and state governments to strengthen paediatric Covid-19 hospitals and protocols and take steps to provide psycho-social support to children who are isolated in hospitals following the virus infection.

It has also urged the authorities to fill the remaining gaps in vaccination coverage of health workers and frontline staff and provide necessary personal protection equipment to prevent transmission of the virus to children who come in contact with them.

These and other recommendations form a part of the advisory for Protection of the Rights of Children in the context of Covid-19 issued by the NHRC earlier this month. This also came at a time when there were concerns that children might be impacted heavily during the third wave of pandemic, though experts have rejected such reports.

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"There is a need for greater preparedness and action for the protection of children by all stakeholders for the future, especially as experts warn about the impending third wave of the pandemic," the advisory said.

The NHRC is of the view that there is a need for strengthening the paediatric Covid-19 hospitals and protocols and align them with the larger Covid-19 management guidelines. It also suggested an increase in paediatric beds and ensuring trained staff, equipment and medicines.

Another concern highlighted by the NHRC is about the psychological impact of the virus infection and subsequent hospitalisation or isolation of a child.

Since children "require psycho-social support as they spend weeks away from their family in a different environment", the NHRC said that the authorities should take steps to ensure psycho-social support to children based on their age and gender, including online or telephonic interaction with parents at specific intervals.

With schools being closed, the rights body recommended that the governments should take all steps to ensure accessibility of online classes for all children, especially those from lower socio-economic sections of the society, through provision of suitable devices and resources including internet connectivity. An adequate budget should be allocated specifically for this purpose, it said.

The NHRC also believes that children from vulnerable sections could drop-out from schools and the "circumstances imposed by the pandemic" may force them to enter into child labour, child marriage, or fall prey to mishaps such as trafficking. It wanted the authorities to collect data on drop-out children and create a mechanism to bring such children back to the education system.

 

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