As COVID-19 leads to innumerable deaths, many children have been left orphaned. Secretary at Ministry of Women and Child Development Ram Mohan Mishra highlighted the issue to Rajesh Bhushan, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a letter. Mishra said that death of the parents have not only left many children in distress and anguish, it has also left them in a vulnerable situation that can lead to trafficking. He urged the MoHFW to ask hospitals and COVID care facilities to add a column in their admission forms seeking details of a person to whom the children can be handed over in case of any eventuality.
"I am writing to you in light of reports regarding children losing their parents during COVID pandemic, with no one to take care of them immediately. The distress and anguish is not only damaging to their being, it puts them in a vulnerable situation, which can be manipulated to their disadvantage, while encouraging evils such as child labour or trafficiking," wrote Mishra.
"It would be very useful if parents could themselves provide details of their trusted relatives or friends to be contacted in case of any eventuality. In this regard, I would request you to direct all hospitals and COVID care facilities through the State Health departments, to add a column seeking the name, relation and contact details of the person whom the children should be handed over, in the hospital admission form," said Mishra, adding that this would ensure that the children are handed over to a trustworthy person. The information could, additionally, be provided to child welfare committee for further follow up.
He added the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 and the rules there under provide a safety net for such children. The ministry has also implemented a centrally sponsored scheme called Child Protection Services along with state governments and union territories to provide institutional and non-institutional care as under the Act, he said.
Mishra added that a 24X7 helpline for children -- 1098 -- called Childline has also been implemented under the Act to extend outreach and support for these children. States have been requested to leverage the system for rehabilitation of these children.