As part of its efforts to prioritize children in COVID-19 response, UNICEF organized an online session with members of Vidhan Sabha constituencies of Chhattisgarh recently. The session aimed at leveraging support from the policymakers to protect children and respond to their needs during the pandemic. The session was organised in collaboration with Media Collective for Child Rights.
The consultation was attended by 13 MLAs including Dr.Preetam Ram (Lundra), Sh. Chintamani Maharaj (Samri), Sh. Kunwar Singh Nishad (Gunderdehi), Smt. Devati Karma (Dantewada), Sh. Chandan Singh Kashyap (Narayanpur), Sh. Rekhchand Jain (Jagdalpur), Sh. Lakheshwar Baghel (Bastar), Sh. Daleshwar Sahu (Dongargaon), Sh. Bhuvneshwar Baghel (Dongargadh), Sh. Rajman Benjam (Chitrakoot), Sh. Vikram Mandavi (Bijapur), Sh. Khel Sai Singh (Prem Nagar) and Sh. Paras Nath Rajwade (Bhatgaon).
Speaking in the consultation UNICEF Chief for Chhattisgarh Job Zachariah, said that “COVID19 pandemic has posed a serious threat to health, education, safety, well-being of children. The government has taken several steps to spread awareness on COVID-19 and to ensure adequate health services in the state to fight the pandemic. However, it needs to be ensured that children issues should also be a part of the COVID-19 response and rehabilitation.” He called for community participation under the leadership of MLAs to reach out to women and children to support them to cope with the pandemic.
During the session, UNICEF drew the attention of the MLAs to five priority areas to keep children protected from the impact of the pandemic. The priorities focused to ensure children are kept healthy and nourished, protected, have access to clean water and hygienic environment, children continue to learn and children of migrant workers are protected.
While speaking Kunwer Singh Nishad, MLA of Gunderdehi stressed the need for community participation to ensure children continue to learn at home. Vikram Mandavi, MLA of Bijapur said that there is a need cater to the health and sanitation needs of people migrating from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Maharastra.
The session also emphasized to support people to seek essential services especially for childbirth, immunization, Nutrition Rehabilitation Centers without fear of spread. UNICEF urged public representatives to monitor the situation of children in their respective constituencies as to protect them from child marriage, child labour, child abuse and exploitation. UNICEF also suggested a list of actions for the wellbeing of children in the state.