The devastations of the Covid-19 pandemic have been felt painfully on health and the economy alike. Covid-19, like other pandemics, has been associated with death and various challenges to the medical infrastructure. But beyond mortality, pandemics inflict severe collateral damage.
This pandemic has left many left orphaned and, hence, vulnerable to such adverse consequences as poverty, abuse, and institutionalization.
It is a painful reminder that beyond the death counts, the weight of loss will be borne by a generation of vulnerable children for many years to come.
There are many who want to contribute for their better upbringing. Most people believe that it will give these children a shot at a better life than they can get from impoverished surviving relatives. However, sometimes even well-intentioned initiatives may go wrong. At the same time there is a tendency that some bad intentioned people try to take advantage of the plight of these children. It is here that the government must ensure balance and make certain that the interests and rights of such children are secured. With the schools open now, the administration must ensure that these orphans get better education and must continuously review measures, already taken as well as needed to be taken.
Working with bereaved children is not merely about counting and recording cases or providing compensation. Stipends and financial packages are critical to ensure children’s long-term security but the administration has to simultaneously invest in human resources and systems necessary to ensure that the children are not exploited with an eye on the incentives provided to Covid-orphans. There is also a need to ensure each child must also be continuously provided mental health support. The unresolved trauma and grief of such magnitude can increase the chances of producing a broken generation and the government must ensure all possible help. Children often take their emotional cues from the key adults in their lives, so it’s important that there is someone caring to listen to their concerns, speak kindly and be reassuring.
The administration should do as much as possible to help the traumatised children and place them in institutional care, if kinship care is not available. As suggested by Lancet, the government should have a permanent fund for the orphaned children and the establishment of an administrative set-up to cater specifically to the issues faced by them. The government as well as society owes vulnerable children empathy, kindness and protection. They must ensure all efforts towards its success.