Second COVID-19 Wave Hits India

COVID- 19 India - Action Against Hunger Canada

Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Across India, there are long lines outside of hospitals, mass cremations in improvised crematoria, people afraid, sick, and mourning. These are the signs of a health system on the brink of collapse.

With nearly 400,000 cases newly reported in the past seven days, the second wave of COVID-19 in India has been devastating. The country faces extreme shortages of hospital beds, oxygen supplies, life support equipment, and medicines.

Action Against Hunger is doing whatever we can to help. We combine a preventive and curative approach to Covid-19 and the impending nutrition crisis in rural and urban areas in Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

To help ensure that government frontline workers can continue to deliver crucial services, we are working with local authorities and partners to provide medical equipment and other desperately-needed supplies. So far, we have supplied more than 8,300 PPE kits to government-managed hospitals and nearly 250,000 face masks, gloves, shields, and sanitizers to frontline workers.

With much of India now in lockdown and health services struggling to keep up with needs, we fear that hunger and malnutrition will quickly follow COVID-19’s second wave, especially for vulnerable groups like young children and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. To help at-risk families, we are providing nutrition support and food rations.

Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Action Against Hunger’s teams in India have been providing counselling and mental health support remotely. We have so far made over 48,000 counselling-based phone calls to families in need. Our teams will continue to provide sessions on nutrition, hygiene, maternal health, childcare, stress management, mental health, and awareness on COVID-19 precautions and vaccinations over the phone to people in need.

Medical Crisis Exacerbates Poverty and Hunger

In India, two-thirds of the population lived in poverty even before COVID-19. With almost 195 million people, the country is home to a quarter of the world’s malnourished people. The consequences of the pandemic are driving more people into poverty and hunger, and exacerbating the suffering of those who were already struggling with food insecurity.

The global community must ensure that the medical crisis in India does not turn into a hunger crisis. Four out of 10 children are already chronically malnourished. A further deterioration in the food situation could pose a threat to an entire generation.

Action Against Hunger works to prevent and treat malnutrition in mothers and young children, and trains parents to detect malnutrition in their children at home. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have supported more than 41,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women and 6,300 malnourished children in India.

Action Against Hunger’s COVID-19 Response in India – Key Facts as of April 26

  • Action Against Hunger India currently works in 4 states – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat; 554 villages, and 6 urban slum pockets.
  • We are a team of more than 200 humanitarian professionals.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have supported 41,400 pregnant and breastfeeding women, 6,300 malnourished children, and more than 1,200 frontline workers.
  • 48,000 phone calls made to provide psychosocial support to families.
  • 200 tons of food rations provided to vulnerable families.
  • 249,264 face masks, shields, gloves, and sanitizers provided to government frontline workers.
  • 8,331 PPE kits provided to local authorities and hospitals in Mumbai.
  • 1,006 parents trained on how to detect their child’s nutrition status in their own homes, reducing the need to visit health centers.
  • 456 villages and 2 slum pockets reached through our COVID-19 awareness activities.


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