A second wave of coronavirus is having a devastating impact on India. The country has now recorded almost thirty million cases of the infection and its health system is struggling to cope as daily cases rise. Hospitals face extreme shortages of beds, oxygen supplies, life support equipment and medicine.
The current situation will put an enormous strain on nutrition services that treat children for life-threatening hunger. If malnutrition rises, vulnerable groups, including pregnant and new mothers and children under the age of five, will be most at risk.
Action Against Hunger’s community mobilisers offer support and counselling to families affected by the pandemic, including the provision of food baskets and raising Covid-19 awareness. They also offer guidance to mothers on good nutrition and proper breastfeeding practices.
Meet communities in Mumbai, India’s largest city, as they tell us how the pandemic has changed their lives.
Mothers living through a pandemic
The pandemic and lockdown restrictions have made life tough for pregnant or new mothers in Mumbai. Many have experienced feelings of anxiety and depression while caring for a young baby.
25-year-old Asma’s third pregnancy has had a huge impact on her health. While she recovers from her pregnancy, her family has also struggled to make ends meet during the lockdown restrictions.
32-year-old mum Ashwini had a tough pregnancy. She was extremely anxious and had further health complications like excessive swelling of her legs. After giving birth, Ashwini felt constantly paranoid – a feeling brought on from living through a pandemic.
When 26-year-old Gudiya tested positive for Covid-19 she had to quarantine alone away from her family. As a breastfeeding mum, Gudiya was anxious about how to feed her youngest son Samar.
To support women like Gudiya, our community mobilisers regularly stay in touch with mothers over the phone and guide them during difficult periods. Last year we reached out to over 40,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women offering support with feeding and on how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. We also supported families through phone calls offering psychological support.
Life for communities in Mumbai dealing with the pandemic is tough. While lockdowns are necessary to control the virus, many families are losing access to work and barely have enough money to afford food.
26-year-old Anjum Nisar Khan is a mother of four kids and has a fifth child on the way. Action Against Hunger’s Community mobilisers Kavita and Janhvi are providing her with emergency food and helping her with medical treatment.
28-year-old Sayyed, a mother of two kids, was worried that her youngest child was starting to lose weight. Our team then diagnosed her son with moderate malnutrition.
Azaad had to send his wife Nazma and their two children to stay with her parents in Punjab. It had become extremely difficult for them to survive in the city, especially with the newly imposed lockdown.
Action Against Hunger’s response to the pandemic in India
Action Against Hunger is providing support to affected families, local authorities and the public healthcare system.
So far we’ve provided:
- over 210 tons of emergency food to families in need
- over 10,000 PPE kits to health centres
- nearly 250,000 masks, gloves and sanitizers to frontline medical workers
We’re also providing counselling and mental health support to families affected by the lockdown. We also continue to work in communities to raise awareness on stopping the spread of the virus, vaccinations and social distancing.