The global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has already claimed over 2 million lives and caused unprecedented economic and social disruption. There is growing concern about long-term consequences of the pandemic on health outcomes of children, stemming from both the illness and from disruptions in the economic, social, and healthcare domains. The impact is especially severe in low resource settings because COVID disruptions have increased vulnerabilities and exacerbated inequalities. The dearth of timely data on child health trajectories and factors that impact vulnerability to future shocks limits our ability to develop effective strategies to minimize negative long-term consequences of the ongoing pandemic.
Our overall goal is to study trajectories of mental health of children and adolescents, immunization, and primary healthcare utilization in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic. Our project is located in India, where one-sixth of the world’s population lives. We will test key hypotheses about the pandemic’s impact on health outcomes, vulnerability to future shocks, and sources of heterogeneity in these relationships.
A strategic innovation is to create a new health panel dataset - called the SurvEy of HeAlth Trends (SEHAT), which means “health” in Hindi. To do so, we leverage the world’s largest household panel, the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS), which collects data on economic and social indicators from a nationally representative sample surveyed three times a year since 2014. The CPHS panel currently includes over 174,000 households. SEHAT will be a new health module administered to a quarter of the CPHS sample (43,000 households with 167,000 individual members) spanning 9 waves from 2021–2024 to generate evidence on the pandemic’s impact on trajectories of health outcomes.
Our specific aims are:
- To quantify the association between COVID-related stressors and mental health of children, immunization, and healthcare utilization.
- To examine impact of COVID-related stressors on vulnerability to future shocks. Using nine waves of panel data over a three-year period starting Fall 2021, we will examine new economic shocks, such as job or income losses in the household, and their cumulative effects on child health outcomes.
- To make SEHAT data publicly available for research and policy. Our study will generate panel data on health outcomes from 43,000 households that can be transformative for research and evidence-based policy. We will release descriptive statistics on key indicators and policy briefs immediately after every wave. With data collection completed in Fall 2024, we will publicly release anonymized microdata and detailed documentation prior to the end of this grant in Fall 2026 to facilitate use of SEHAT by researchers worldwide.