The UNICEF also said it is continuing to support the Indian government in the acceleration of its national vaccine rollout to equitably reach all population groups.
During the daily press briefing on Friday, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the UN chief, referred to the tweet by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he and the UN family stand in solidarity with the people of the country as they face a horrific COVID-19 outbreak and the UN stands ready to step up its support to the country.
Haq said UN Resident Coordinator in India Renata Lok-Dessallien shares the Secretary-General’s sentiments.
The UNICEF is helping to procure and install 25 oxygen plants for hospitals in the Northeast and Maharashtra, as well as the installation of thermal scanners at ports of entry countrywide.
“The UNICEF and partners are continuing to support the Government of India in the acceleration of its national vaccine rollout to equitably reach all population groups,” a press release from the UN agency said.
“Vials of the COVID-19 vaccine have to be carefully packed at cold temperatures to ensure they remain effective when administered, part of the so-called cold chain – a series of precisely coordinated events in temperature-controlled environments to store, manage and transport these life-saving products," it said.
"The UNICEF and partners have procured special refrigerators as part of cold chain strengthening and COVID-19 vaccine introduction in India,” it added.
The UN agency has sent critical life-saving supplies, including 3,000 oxygen concentrators, diagnostic tests, medical kits, and other equipment to help India in its battle with a deadly wave of COVID-19.
Along with the oxygen concentrators, UNICEF has supplied more than 500 high flow nasal cannulas and 85 RT-PCR (COVID testing) machines. “COVID-19 is severely overstraining the health system in India,” said Dr Yasmin Haque, UNICEF Representative in India.
“Urgent action is needed to avert further tragic loss of life. UNICEF has provided oxygen supplies and other critically needed emergency equipment for an immediate response while supporting resilience building against recurrent shocks and stresses. Indeed, much more is needed as the outbreak continues to spread rapidly.”
The UNICEF said in the press release that it is continuing to work with partners to increase access to life-saving oxygen by procuring and installing oxygen generation plants in hospitals to treat severe and critical COVID-19 cases.
It is helping to provide rapid, accurate testing machines in some of the most affected districts and support communities and essential workers to weather this storm and prevent further disruption to outreach programmes and services for children.
"The scenes we are seeing in India are simply devastating," said George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.
"The most vulnerable families are paying a steep price for this deadly new surge. The UNICEF calls on all partners who are able to support in responding to this new wave to do so immediately."
The UNICEF has also been helping the Indian Government to ensure that ensuring critical services for the most vulnerable children can continue functioning, as well as to help more than 12 million children in 17 states continue learning from home, Haq said.
The UNICEF added that since the start of the pandemic, it has been working with partners in India to help stop the spread of COVID-19, sharing information with more than 660 million people on how to stay safe from the coronavirus.
“The UNICEF has consistently worked to counter misinformation and promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviours, including wearing masks, physical distancing, and handwashing.”
The UNICEF said it needs USD 21 million for the urgent delivery of additional testing equipment, supplies and oxygen products in India and more than USD 50 million for lifesaving COVID-19 interventions across sectors.