Children in face masks pay their respects during the cremation of monk Wai Bu La in Thanlyin, Yangon, on Jan. 10. The monk’s funeral had been delayed for eight months due to the pandemic. (Photo: AFP)
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) has urged Catholics across the country to contribute donations to purchase Covid-19 vaccines.
The bishops said it is the dawn of hope to escape the deadly coronavirus as scientists have come up with vaccines.
“We appeal to you to give donations through bishops in dioceses as the CBCM will pass on the donations to the government to purchase Covid-19 vaccines,” said the CBCM in a Jan. 17 letter.
The prelates said the epidemic is also a warning of the need for “peace and harmony with nature, our motherland.”
“All of us, as parents, now need more and more to be left in the middle of a greener world so that our children can inherit what is right without wasting all our resources,” said the letter signed by Cardinal Charles Bo, president of the CBCM, and Bishop John Saw Yaw Han, general secretary.
Church leaders reminded the faithful to continue obeying Covid-19 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
They also expressed gratitude to people taking part in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 together with the government.
The bishops’ appeal for donations came after their annual meeting via Zoom on Jan. 12-13.
The Church has played a vital role in the fight against the contagion. Apart from offering quarantine facilities, it has sent youths and religious sisters to serve as volunteers, carrying out awareness campaigns and providing help to hospitals.
Church leaders have also organized fundraising campaigns to provide food and essentials to the needy and urged Catholics to show solidarity with the poor.
Last week a team from Mandalay Archdiocese led by Archbishop Marco Tin Win donated 10 million kyat (US$7,460) to the Mandalay regional government to purchase Covid-19 vaccines.
In his New Year message, the prelate voiced concern about getting access to Covid vaccines for all people in the impoverished nation.
He said rich countries have organized vaccinations programs while poor nations including Myanmar are struggling to purchase sufficient vaccines for all people.
On Dec. 30, the National-level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Covid-19 formed a fund management subcommittee on the purchase of vaccines.
A foreign currency account was opened with an initial deposit of $250 million and a Myanmar current account was opened with 1 billion kyat from the state to purchase vaccines.
A total of 728 donors, both local and foreign, contributed 10.13 billion kyat and $2.67 million to the vaccine fund between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12, according to state-run media.
Healthcare workers and the elderly are the first in line for vaccination and health officials have planned for 20 percent of Myanmar’s nearly 54.4 million people to be vaccinated under the COVAX program in 2021.
Myanmar reported 449 new coronavirus cases on Jan. 18, bringing the total to 134,318 with 2,955 deaths and 117,663 recoveries. It has the third-highest number of cases in Asean behind Indonesia and the Philippines.