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Inside an intensive care unit (ICU) of Yangon General Hospital, in Yangon, Myanmar. Inside an intensive care unit (ICU) of Yangon General Hospital, in Yangon, Myanmar.  (ANSA)

Myanmar bishops urge donations to buy Covid-19 vaccines

The Catholic Church in Myanmar has been playing a vital role in collaborating with the government to stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Vatican News staff writer

The Catholic Church in Myanmar is urging the faithful across the country to make donations to help the government purchase its stock of Covid-19 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,” read a 17 January letter by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM).   

Harmony with creation

While noting that the vaccines point to the dawn of hope to escape the deadly coronavirus, the bishops also noted that the epidemic is 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’s fight against pandemic

The bishops’ appeal for donations came after their virtual annual meeting, held via Zoom on January 12-13. 

The Church leaders encouraged Catholics to continue following the 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 Church has played a vital role in the fight against the contagion by offering quarantine facilities and sending its young people and religious personnel 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 hit by the loss of livelihood due to the Covid-10 restrictions and urged Catholics to show solidarity with the poor.

Myanmar’s funding drive

Last week, Archbishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay led a team to the Mandalay regional government to donate 10 million kyats (US$7,460) to purchase Covid-19 vaccines. In his New Year message, the archbishop voiced concern about the impoverished nation’s ability to procure enough vaccines for its people.

The German Catholic charity Misereor last week raised an alarm that wealthy and powerful nations, comprising 13 per cent of the world's population, have already secured a disproportionate share of the world’s Covid-19 vaccines. The German Catholic Bishops’ charity called for “quotas for the entire world population, to distribute them proportionately to the respective populations and to take into account levels of risk and vulnerability."

On 30 December, Myanmar’s Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Covid-19 formed a fund management subcommittee on the purchase of vaccines. The government on 5 January opened a foreign currency account and a local Myanmar currency account for the purchase of vaccines, with a contribution of 1 billion kyats by the state. The vaccine fund has since received donations from individuals, businesses and religious organizations. Within a week of the government’s request, some 13 billion kyats (US$10.2 million) in public donations were received by the fund. 

Myanmar has approached India and China for its supply of vaccines. On 7 December it submitted a request to COVAX for vaccines for the poor. COVAX is a multi-lateral platform that the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) has set up to ensure rapid, fair and equitable access to Covid-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines for people in all countries.

In Myanmar, healthcare workers and the elderly are the first in line for vaccination and the government hopes to inoculate 40 per cent of its 54.4 million inhabitants by the end of 2021. The remaining adults are expected to be vaccinated during the 2022-23 financial year.

Since 19 December, Myanmar has seen a decline in daily cases of Covid-19. Fewer than 1,000 cases are now being reported per day, down from a peak of more than 1,400 daily cases.

On Sunday, Myanmar registered 449 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to over 134,000 with nearly3,000 deaths.  (Source: UCA News)

18 January 2021, 12:32