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Nearly 50% parents with kids below 5 yrs not able to access immunisation during lockdown, says CRY

Social Issues

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Nearly 50 per cent of parents of children below five years of age have not been able to access immunisation services during the nationwide lockdown imposed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, says child rights NGO CRY.

The online perception study conducted by Child Rights and You (CRY) in 22 states and Union Territories of the country also talked about the multiple effects of the pandemic on children.

The survey was conducted during the first and second phase of lockdown. It is based on responses of about 1,100 parents and primary caregivers from across the country.

According to the study, access to immunisation suffered a huge setback across all regions of the country and a whopping 63 per cent of the surveyed households in northern states reported lack of access to immunisation services.

Only around half (51 per cent ) of the parents who had children below five years of age were able to access immunisation services during the lockdown, the survey said.

"One in every four (27 per cent) of the respondents reported non-accessibility of regular healthcare services for children during the lockdown -most reported from the North (31 per cent) followed by the South (21 per cent). In other regions, lack of access to regular healthcare facilities was experienced by less than 20 per cent of parents," it said.

Even though children have not been the face of this pandemic as they have largely been spared of the direct health effects of COVID-19 so far, findings of the study indicate that they have been among its biggest victims with multiple side-effects on their physical and psycho-social well-being. If access to basic healthcare for children was at bay, their access to education was affected equally during the lockdown days, the survey said.

Three in every four (77 per cent) of the respondents have reported that the lockdown has affected education and learning. This was again the highest in the North (87 per cent) and least in the West (56 per cent), it said.

While 60 per cent of the parents/primary caregivers pointed out that among the regular activities for children affected were their extra-curricular opportunities; 60 per cent believed that children's friendships and social lives were affected; and almost an equal section (59 per cent) perceived that their outdoor games and recreational opportunities were majorly compromised, the survey found.

More importantly, according to 37 per cent of the respondents, children's psychological well-being and happiness have definitely been affected during this phase. This was most reported from the eastern states (51 per cent), the survey said.

A majority (88 per cent) of the respondents reported an increase in their children's exposure to online activities (screen time), amongst which 45 per cent reported the increase to a great extent. Region-wise, in South, North, and West, around 40 per cent of the respondents reported that the screen time for children have increased considerably, it said.

Only 43 per cent of the parents reported about being able to watch their children's online activity continuously. This was the highest in the West (68 per cent), followed by East (50 per cent).

More than half of the respondents (52 per cent) reported about the provision of supervised access to the Internet for their children. One in every five respondents (22 per cent) reported about taking no measures to protect their children when online. This was most reported from North (25 per cent), the survey said.

The findings of the study were made public through a webinar which included a session where eminent experts shared their insightful views and valuable opinions.

Explaining the objective behind the study, Puja Marwaha, CEO, CRY said, In a country where 40 per cent of the total population are children, and the budget allocated for them is just a little over 3 per cent of the entire budget outlay, it is but obvious that they do not feature as the topmost topic of discussion while the country battles a pandemic.

"However, this most vulnerable section of the society has been one of the worst affected by the side effects of COVID-19. To be able to address this, and to be better prepared to support the marginalised children of the country during and after the lockdown, we conducted the online survey in 23 states and Union Territories to understand how the lockdown days' have affected their physical and mental health, nutrition, education, protection and online security issues, she added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Tue, May 12 2020. 16:37 IST