UCA News


Indian Christians offer hospitals, service to fight Covid-19

Over 1,000 nun doctors and 50,000 nurses serve in Christian healthcare facilities, mostly in villages

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Updated: March 27, 2020 07:32 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Indian Christians offer hospitals, service to fight Covid-19

A stray dog rests next to people during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the coronavirus in Allahabad on March 26. (Photo: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP)

Share this article :
A coalition of Christian hospitals in India has offered Prime Minister Narendra Modi its institutions and staff to help the government fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The Christian Coalition for Health wrote to Modi saying that its 1,000 hospitals and over 60,000 inpatient beds across the country are ready to be used in collaboration with the government.

Redemptorist Father Mathew Abraham, president of the coalition, in the March 26 letter expressed solidarity with the efforts of the prime minister and the nation to face the challenge of Covid 19.

Positive Covid-19 cases in India had surged to 735 by March 27 from less than 100 a fortnight ago. India has recorded 16 deaths. The country is under a 21-day lockdown until April 15, aiming to break the chain of infections.

The coalition's letter expressed willingness to collaborate with the government "in the best way possible for the health and well-being of the people of this nation to fight this pandemic."

Father George Kannanthanam, a coalition official, said the pandemic posed a grave threat to the health and well-being of the entire population of India.

The priest, also national secretary of the Catholic Health Association of India, told UCA News that "the Christian community always stood in the forefront to fight any national calamity or crisis and Covid-19 is no exception."

"We want to do whatever best we can with the government to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country," he said.

The coalition's letter, released to the media, said member hospitals have been discussing ways to fight Covid-19. They have held coordinating meetings and webinars to help hospitals with disaster preparedness in case the virus spread to areas where the hospitals are situated.

The member hospitals are already working with local government healthcare officials in the effort against the pandemic.

These hospitals, mostly situated in remote rural areas, are preparing handmade masks and personal protection equipment made of large plastic bags for protection of their healthcare workers.

The coalition includes healthcare facilities managed by Catholic and Protestant groups and served by more than 1,000 nun doctors and 50,000 Christian nurses.

Executive director Anuvinda Varkey told UCA News that the Christian offer is an "opportunity for the government to utilize our facilities, especially in rural areas."

"Many of our village hospitals are more than 100 years old, established even before governments opened facilities, and local people are familiar and confident in our services," she said.

All Covid-19 cases are currently treated at government hospitals. At some stage, private hospitals may need to handle both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 cases.

"In any case, we are open to collaborate with the government," Varkey said. "We are already at the service of humanity and make our facilities available as the government wishes." 

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."