As another wave of COVID-19 spreads across India, mission hospitals and missionary stations are often people’s only hope. But they need our help.
Yesterday we received an update from Fr Ambrose, Missio’s National Director in India. Fr Ambrose had received news from St Thomas’ hospital in Chennai, which is run by Franciscan Sisters.
The hospital is under incredible strain. It is trying to meet the needs of people suffering from COVID-19, who have nowhere else to go. Fr Ambrose said:
‘They believe that the number of infected people is three times higher than the number declared by the Government. Most hospitals are closed to COVID patients; the Sisters opened their doors, even though they lacked the necessary equipment, because they could see that people were desperate. They are treating the very poor, and the Sisters and Priests who have nowhere else to go also get the care they need’.
Our missionary family and the people they serve are in great need. Please help with a gift to the COVID-19 Mission Response>>
The current situation
India has witnessed a massive surge of COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks, with over 5 million confirmed cases reported from 32 states/union territories in India. A partial lockdown is in place, and India has increased its testing rate and markedly strengthened the healthcare sector to combat the virus.
But with a population of more than 1.3 billion people, a lack of universal access to clean water, and with vast numbers of people living in poverty, there are major challenges to India’s fight against the pandemic. And if India fails to contain the surge in India, the widespread cases could easily overwhelm international healthcare infrastructure. The situation is so serious that WHO (the World Health Organisation) has recently stated that the ‘future of the pandemic will depend on how India handles it’.
While wealthier people can afford to pay for private hospital treatment, poor and economically marginalised people are suffering. Their only choice is the overcrowded and ill-equipped government hospitals, or non-profit healthcare centres like St Thomas Hospital. And now, with the scarcity of medical oxygen, essential medicines and ventilators, the Sisters are struggling to help everyone in need.
Fr Ambrose told us that about 50 Priests and Sisters are being cared for in the hospital alongside poor and vulnerable people. But, he said:
They have had to close the gates because they can’t accommodate any more patients. They need to create more space and more beds. Meanwhile, the cost of oxygen has gone up – it is 10 times what it was before.
Will you help?
We urgently need to help St Thomas Hospital, by providing funds for more beds, masks, oxygen, ventilators and other equipment.
You can still give to our COVID-19 Mission Response fund by selecting it from the options on the donation form. Please Donate here>>
Anything you can spare will go directly to those who need it most. Fr Anthony Chantry, our National Director here in England and Wales says:
The news from India is very distressing as we witness the pain and suffering of so many victims of this ongoing pandemic. This contrasts starkly with the success of the vaccination programme here in our own country. Having spoken to Fr Ambrose, it is clear that the Church is once again taking a lead in helping those in need of medical help and spiritual encouragement. St Thomas’ Hospital is but one example of how the Church is serving the poor and vulnerable of India, as well as offering help to Priests and Sisters who are seriously ill.
I have informed Fr Ambrose that we are in solidarity with them in mind and spirit. We will pray for and with them, and offer them as much help as we can including a grant from our COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
There is no room for despair when we have Christ as our hope. Every prayer offered and every pound sent will make a difference, between death and life.
Please help us support our sisters and brothers in dire need. Please hold them in your prayers and donate whatever you can today>>