Representational image (Express Illustrations)
Representational image (Express Illustrations)

Lancet study trickery to create panic, 1.53 lakh kids lost caregiver to Covid: Government

Centre said the study was modelled and the actual number of children who lost either a parent, a primary caregiver or were abandoned and orphaned is 1,53,827 till February 15.

NEW DELHI:A Lancet report's claim that 19 lakh children in India lost a primary caregiver to COVID-19 is "sophisticated trickery" to create panic among citizens, Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said on Wednesday.

The ministry refuted the study published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health Journal, saying the actual number of such children was 1.53 lakh.

"It is a sophisticated trickery intended to create panic among citizens. Divorced from the truth and ground realities. Why are some agencies hell bent on creating panic?" Irani said in a press conference held shortly after she attended a programme organised as part of the celebrations of the International Women's Day week.

WCD Ministry Secretary Indevar Pandey said the study was modelled and the actual number of children who lost either a parent, a primary caregiver or were abandoned and orphaned is 1,53,827 till February 15.

Asking how the Lancet study arrived at the figure of 19 lakh, Pandey said the actual figure is 1,53,827 from the data that has been uploaded on NCPCR's Bal Swaraj portal by district magistrates and affidavits filed by states in the Supreme Court.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was asked to set up a portal where this data had to be uploaded, the ministry said, adding that accordingly, NCPCR has been continuously tracking all the children who have lost their parents (either one or both) due to any reason and children who have been abandoned since April 1, 2020.

"So far, 1,53,827 children have been registered on the portal, including 1,42,949 children with a single parent, 492 abandoned children and 10,386 children who have lost both their parents," Pandey said.

"The Ministry of Women and Child Development finds the Lancet article dated February 24, 2022 giving estimates of children affected by COVID-19 associated orphanhood very surprising and contrary to field data in this regard.

"Lancet has reported that more than 19 lakh children have lost their primary caregivers due to COVID-19 in India.

There is no doubt that the researchers have used sophisticated methodology to estimate the numbers about children, who have lost their primary caregivers, but these findings have no correlation with ground reality in India as reflected from field findings," the ministry said in a written statement.

It said that according to the field data from states and union territories which was being compiled under Supreme Court's directions, the numbers for India are about 1.53 lakh.

The loss of a parent could have been due to COVID-19, natural, unnatural, or from any other cause during the pandemic, the statement said.

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