COVID-19 poses an immediate threat to hundreds of millions of people in India while jeopardising the tremendous gains made in poverty reduction. The epidemic is overloading vulnerable health systems and overtaxing frontline health workers. At the same time, the efforts required to contain its spread have severely impacted lives and livelihoods and stalled economic activity. Informal workers and people on the fringes are highly vulnerable to falling into poverty or facing hunger, illness, homelessness and social stigma. The Government of India has taken early action to prevent new infections, provide care and treatment, support economic relief and ensure delivery of basic services and essential commodities, including through a USD 22.5 billion relief package.
UNDP is contributing to these efforts, helping to strengthen health systems, mitigating social and economic impacts, and assisting multisectoral planning and coordination at state level. Working in collaboration with WHO, we are leveraging our network of 700 staff supporting government health projects in 30 states to procure medical supplies, support biomedical waste management and build capacities among health professionals. In collaboration with state governments, civil society, the private sector and UN agencies, we help strengthen access to social protection among the urban poor, tribal communities, marginalized women and youth, disadvantaged castes and groups, waste collectors, construction workers, migrants and returnees. Drawing on a longstanding experience in supporting governance institutions, UNDP also assists multisectoral planning of response and recovery efforts and bolster inclusive outreach to vulnerable communities.