Media releases and reports

UNICEF NZ supports India during crippling Covid-19 crisis

30 APRIL 2021

30 APRIL 2021 – UNICEF NZ today launched the COVID-19 Crisis in India Appeal as India is hit by a devastating second wave of COVID-19 cases, leaving families and communities in desperate need of assistance.

India has recorded more than 200,000 deaths and the total number of infections has surpassed 18 million. 379,000 new cases were reported yesterday.

Michelle Sharp, UNICEF NZ CEO is urging New Zealanders to support at a time when health systems in India are at breaking point and the virus is ripping through communities.

“We are so fortunate in Aotearoa to have been spared the crippling impacts of Covid-19. Right now families in India are facing unimaginable horrors and are in desperate need of support. The mortality rates will continue to rise unless we all take action to curb the spread of Covid-19” says Sharp.

A recently released UNICEF-led report fears that India will suffer the highest number of deaths amongst children under five, because of disruptions to essential public health services. Hospitals and health centres across India are critically overcrowded and struggling to cope with the overwhelming number of new cases. Hospital beds, essential medical supplies and oxygen are running out.

“UNICEF have decades of experience responding to emergencies and are now on the ground in India, working alongside partners to deliver life-saving healthcare, medical equipment, oxygen, PPE and hygiene supplies. We urgently need Kiwis to step up to support communities in India” says Sharp.

Donations to the COVID-19 Crisis in India appeal will:

  • Increase access to life-saving oxygen by procuring and installing Oxygen Generation Plants (OGPs) in hospitals to treat severe and critical COVID-19 cases;

  • Provide rapid, accurate testing machines in some of the most affected districts;

  • Support the ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines through the UNICEF-supported COVAX initiative.

Currently UNICEF has sent 3,000 oxygen concentrators, diagnostic tests, medical kits, more than 500 high flow nasal cannulas and 85 RT-PCR (COVID testing) machines. Additionally, UNICEF is supporting the procurement and installation of 25 oxygen plants for hospitals in the Northeast and in Maharashtra, and the installation of more than 70 thermal scanners at various ports of entry countrywide.

UNICEF has deployed senior level experts in worst hit states such as Maharashtra, to provide support to state and local authorities for short-term COVID-response planning and monitoring.

While providing urgent support to the healthcare system, UNICEF has also been assisting the Government of India in ensuring critical services for the most vulnerable children continue functioning.

UNICEF provided more than 11,000 personal protection kits for functionaries working on India’s Childline so that childcare services can continue. Across all states, UNICEF is providing guidance and support for the safety and care of children in childcare institutions. “The knock-on effects of the virus are horrific. The crisis is turning children’s lives upside down and we must do more to protect them.

Our thoughts are with Indian communities residing in Aotearoa right now who are losing loved ones in India and watching as the crisis continues to tear families apart. We urge New Zealanders to donate to UNICEF NZ’s COVID-19 Crisis in India Appeal and make a life-saving difference” says Sharp.