Christian doctors and nurses treat a patient at a Christian hospital in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka. (Photo supplied)
Christian nurses and doctors in Bangladesh are vowing to continue their battle against the Covid-19 pandemic on the front line as they mark International Nurses Day on May 12.
Clara Biswas, 34, is a Catholic and senior nurse who has worked in private and government hospitals for 11 years. She now works at a state-run hospital in capital Dhaka that treats both Covid-19 and other patients despite various challenges.
“I have not worked in such a situation in my life. This is a very risky time for us and other medical personnel, though all medical staff are using personal protective equipment (PPE) for safety,” Biswas told UCA News.
In addition to the fear of infection, the wearing of PPE for more than eight hours is tough as it gets hot and she feels sick, while the hospital does not allow them to use a common toilet and provides no food, she noted.
Joyanta Mrong, 32, is an ethnic Garo Catholic who works at state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital. He is aware that his wife and son face risks because of his job.
“I know how to handle myself, but they are not medical persons, so I’m afraid for them,” Mrong told UCA News.
“We work and we get money for it, but money is not all. As medical workers, we have taken vows to serve patients in any situation. I am proud to be a medical person now as I am a part of the fight against Covid-19.”
There are 2,500 nurses and 170 doctors from the Christian community actively fighting the deadly virus in Bangladesh, according to church officials.
“The Christian community runs 13 hospitals across the country, but none of them are Covid-19 specialist hospitals. But those hospitals offer services for Covid-19-affected patients — they collect samples and refer patients to specialist hospitals if any patient is suspected to be infected,” said Dr. Edward Pallab Rozario, head of health at Catholic charity Caritas Bangladesh.
Christian hospitals and medical centers provide services including building Covid-19 awareness, testing and referring suspected patients, while Christian nurses and doctors are working side by side with other doctors and medical staff despite a lack of medical equipment and support, he noted.
Dr. Rozario, vice-president of the Christian Medical Association of Bangladesh, said the government and private organizations need to support people risking their lives for others.
Bangladesh had recorded 15,691 coronavirus cases and 239 deaths as of May 11. About 12 percent of infected patients are doctors and medical staff, according to medical councils.