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Helping and healing our brothers and sisters in India’s Covid crisis

Barnabas Aid January/February 2022

Barnabas Fund has channelled more than £240,000 ($325,000; €280,000) of your generous donations to support Christian medical ministries in India that are still responding to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This has enabled our brothers and sisters, called to minister to the sick and the needy, to continue to provide care and treatment in such dire circumstances, particularly to our fellow Christians.

Your donations have supported many hospitals and medical ministries in various parts of India. This includes the installation of four power generators, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to 12 hospitals, the purchase of oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators, and other vital equipment including pulse oximeters, stethoscopes, thermometers and an ECG machine.

Throughout summer 2021 India was ravaged by Covid. At the peak in May more than 300,000 new cases were being reported every single day. This in turn led to healthcare services being overwhelmed. Many died while waiting for space in overcrowded hospitals; severe shortages of oxygen meant that others on intensive-care wards suffocated to death.

India, as of November 2021, has officially recorded 460,000 Covid deaths, and a study by the US-based Centre for Global Development estimates that the full Covid death toll could be more than ten times that number. The pandemic is not yet over – your gifts have already saved lives and will doubtless save many more.

The Church response

The Church in India has been devastated. In June it was reported that more than 2,000 pastors and Church leaders had already succumbed to the virus. At least 40 ministries in India were in danger of closing down, simply because their leaders had died and there was no one able to replace them, leaving Christians without spiritual care and support at the time they needed it most.

“The second wave of Covid infection has created devastation and panic in India,” said an Indian Church leader. “We lost thousands of people to this deadly virus.”

Yet the Church has also made a significant contribution to the pandemic response. Barnabas Fund created an emergency taskforce of Church leaders from across denominations, chaired by our International Director Patrick Sookhdeo. We have worked closely with Christian medical ministries such as Emmanuel Hospital Association and the Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI).

All this ensures that your gifts are used as efficiently as possible to help and support our suffering Christian family.

The new generator at Nav Jivan Hospital in Jharkhand state provides power for medical equipment as well as the on-site living quarters of hospital staff  

“We praise God for His mercy”

“At our hospital we did not have an ICU [intensive-care unit] or even an HDU [high-dependency unit] set up,” said Dr George Varghese, the Senior Administrative Officer at Prem Sewa Hospital in Gandhinagar, near Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh. This small hospital is just one example of where your donations have made a life-saving difference to the lives of Christians.

The hospital has been able to set up a ten-bed Covid care centre as well as a five-bed ICU. Along with the new wards Prem Sewa Hospital has installed an oxygen-generating plant that will prove vital to the survival of the most severely afflicted Covid patients.

The hospital only receives an average of 15 hours’ power supply each day – an amount that can vary considerably – while the oxygen plant requires continuous power. Your contributions have allowed the purchase and installation of a new 45 kVA (45 thousand volt-amps) generator to overcome this barrier.

These improvements will be of special help to the Christian community of Balrampur. Dr Varghese says that members of local churches can now get “quality healthcare service from the hospital, and they don’t have to be referred to far-off hospitals for the medical care”. He concludes, “We praise God for His mercy upon our small hospital.”

New generators minimise risks to treatment

Prem Sewa is one of many Christian hospitals and medical ministries across India that we have supported. The Nav Jivan Hospital in the village of Tumbagadad, Palamua, Jharkhand state, is typical of rural hospitals that suffer from an inconsistent supply of electricity and the risks to treatment that follow. “Power outages caused staff to grope in the dark,” says hospital administrator Helen Paul, as well as causing vital equipment to fail and leading to delays in surgery and other procedures.

Thanks to your donations, a new 62.5 kVA generator has been purchased and installed, delivering a continuous energy supply to power the hospital. If power from the mains comes to a halt the generator immediately whirs into action, ensuring that there are no potentially deadly gaps in power supply. In the same way the generator immediately stops when mains power is restored.

“Now there is no cause for any apprehension,” explains Helen. “Work has become very smooth and power outages do not hamper work flow.”

It was a similar story at Broadwell Christian Hospital in Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh. Dr Jesudoss explains that the frequent power cuts had made an alternative power source a necessity, but that the hospital’s small generator was unable to cope. As well as placing patients at risk the power outages made life difficult for doctors, nurses and other hospital staff who live on-site.

The hospital has installed a new 125 kVA generator, capable of supplying power both to the hospital itself and to the domestic areas that are home to staff, including 25 family quarters and a women’s hostel. Previously, says Dr Jesudoss, “we were not able to provide power to the domestic area during daytime.” Now there is enough power for these areas, as well as operating theatres, ventilators, monitors, and other medical equipment.

“God has answered our prayers at the right time through Barnabas Fund.”

Home healthcare is provided by a Bangalore-based Christian ministry to those with Covid who cannot afford hospital care

Christian ministries providing help and hope

The 70-bed Burrows Memorial Christian Hospital in the Cachar district of Assam has also been fitted with a new 140 kVA generator. Johnson Singson, the hospital administrator, explains that as a rural hospital in an area vulnerable to summer monsoons continuous power could not be guaranteed. “As our hospital is situated in a far-flung area there are frequent load shedding and power fluctuation problems,” he says, and “during the monsoon months between May and October heavy rains destroy grid infrastructure resulting in interruption of power supply for a good number of days.”

Now, says Johnson, the hospital “will be able to provide uninterrupted services” to those in need of critical care. “Thank you very much for your valuable support and kindness towards our hospital ministry,” he adds, “God has answered our prayers at the right time through Barnabas Fund.”

In the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, Barnabas is providing vital medical supplies for a Christian ministry serving a tribal area of more than a million people by running a 20-bed Covid isolation facility. “There is an absence of health infrastructure in the villages,” explains Christian leader Vaibiv Moon, adding that the few hospitals in the region “are unable to cater to the huge need”.

The isolation facility has been equipped with PPE kits, IV drip stands, thermometers and bedding, along with food and kitchen utensils. Our project partners have purchased three oxygen cylinders, as well as four oxygen concentrators – machines that purify the air and actually produce oxygen for Covid patients.

Tribal people are often despised and neglected, and are among the most destitute and impoverished of Indian society. “We have been always considered as untouchables,” said Shakar Jaganath, a tribal leader in Gadchiroli. “Thank you for setting up this centre here in our community. We feel valued.”

Practical help in time of need

Working with the CMAI, Barnabas Fund has provided £23,000 ($31,000; €27,000) to set up a ten-bed Covid care centre at a Christian hospital in the city of Nadiat, Gujarat. The new centre allows the hospital to fulfil its Christian mission of caring for the sick. The centre will continue to be put to important use even if the virus recedes, as a respiratory clinic that will provide much-needed care long into the future.

A grant of £119,000 ($161,000; €139,000) has also allowed CMAI to provide new PPE kits – including masks, face shields, gloves, coveralls and other items – for ten Indian hospitals.

Often the disadvantaged of India – Christians among them – cannot afford hospital care. A Christian ministry in Bangalore has taken it as its mission to serve those who must remain at home. A grant of £18,300 ($25,000; €21,000) has provided health care staff with equipment such as pulse oximeters and digital thermometers in order to carry out home assessments.

These are just a few of many examples of how we are using your gifts to help our needy brothers and sisters. Medical care, say our project partners, will be based on Christian values of service – values sorely needed at such a time of crisis.

Project Reference: PR1530
Covid Emergency Fund

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