Father Dismas Valens Salettia (far right) reads out a poem expressing his gratitude to all doctors and nurses who have died of Covid-19 during a virtual prayer service on Sept. 3. (Photo: YouTube screenshot)
Religious leaders, state officials and medical workers in Indonesia have staged a virtual memorial service to pray for at least 170 doctors and nurses who have died fighting Covid-19 in the Muslim-majority country.
The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) and the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) jointly organized the event, which was livestreamed on YouTube on Sept. 2.
According to the IDI, at least 104 doctors, nine dentists and 70 nurses have died from the coronavirus since the first two Indonesian cases were detected in March.
Of them, 22 doctors were based in Jakarta, 28 in East Java province, 18 were from North Sumatra province and the rest from other provinces.
“We pray together for our fellow fighters for humanity … who have died of Covid-19,” IDI chairman Daeng M. Faqih said at the start of the memorial service.
“We hope what they have fought for inspires us to keep our commitment to serving humanity, because this is the oath we gave when we chose to become medical workers.”
He hoped the event would encourage all people in Indonesia to work together to overcome the pandemic.
Abdul Hakim Mahfudz, a Muslim cleric from Tabuireng Islamic Boarding School in East Java’s Jombang district, led the prayer meeting.
“We pray to you, Allah, that you will rid this pandemic from the earth. Heal our brothers and sisters who are receiving treatment, and bless them and their families,” he said.
“Allah, our God, protect our medical workers who work day and night to serve those in need. Give them the strength and the gift of health to do their noble work.”
Representing the Catholic community was Father Dismas Valens Salettia, who expressed his gratitude to medical workers in a poem.
“Thank you for showing us during this difficult situation the kindness of God and the mercy of God,” the priest said.
“You have become angels in this world which is full of fear and anxiety. You have sacrificed yourselves for us and given us the hope that many still care for each other.”
Also joining the event were several cabinet ministers, including Muhadjir Effendy, the coordinating human development and culture minister.
“The government realizes that doctors and other medical workers are the most prone group to the Covid-19 pandemic and, therefore, have tried hard to provide everything needed to protect them from the disease,” Effendy said
Speaking to UCA News, Felix Gunawan, director of the Association of Voluntary Health Services of Indonesia — a Catholic group — lamented the fact that the disease has killed so many health workers.
“Doctors face a dilemma. They have no other choice but to serve Covid-19 patients and even asymptomatic individuals,” he said, adding that “doctors will continue to face the deadly risk if Covid-19 continues to spread” in the country.
As of Sept. 3, Indonesia had recorded 184,268 Covid-19 cases and 7,750 deaths.