By Robin Gomes
As Covid-19 cases and deaths skyrocket in Indonesia, stretching the country’s healthcare system to near collapse, a Catholic diocese has launched a mobile vaccination initiative to reach out to marginalized communities.
“Act of compassion”
Serviam Vaccination Service (SVS) is the name of the mobile Covid-19 vaccination initiative by 3 Catholic schools run by the Ursuline Sisters in the capital, Jakarta, Radio Veritas Asia reported. Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta, presided over the inauguration of the service on August 3, blessing the vehicles that will be used to carry out the immunization programme among the marginalized people.
"These cars are concrete manifestations of the act of compassion and sharing of love to people in need," said the cardinal as he blessed the vehicles.
Joining hands with others
“This vaccination is not a programme but a movement, which means this movement must be done together,” said I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati, Indonesia’s Minister of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection, who was present during the occasion.
“This is proof of the synergy of the government, local government, and community institutions to work together to meet the 100 percent vaccination target," she said during the launch of the drive.
Governor Anies Baswedan of Jakarta also expressed his support for the activity. "We thank everyone," said Anies at the launch at St. Ursula School. "Jakarta is dominated by densely populated areas. Mobile vaccination cars can reach residential areas,” he said.
Angela Basiroen, head of the SVS committee said 8 vehicles destined for the service will go around Jakarta to vaccinate people, especially those aged 12-17 years, and the vulnerable communities.
“Our target is the marginalized community, but we also go to schools,” she said. Each car can carry 100 to 200 doses of vaccines. The initiative also aims to reach out to residents in areas with a high number of Covid-19 cases and poor communities.
Ursuline motto of service
The Ursuline Sisters, who are particularly dedicated to education, arrived in Indonesia in 1856. “Serviam”, the motto of all Ursuline schools worldwide, is Latin for “I will serve”. It is inspired by the teachings of St Angela Merici, who founded the Ursuline Order in 1535, in Italy.
The Serviam Vaccination Service is the expansion of the Serviam Vaccination Centre that the students and alumni of the Ursuline schools of Sts. Ursula, Thresia and Maria in Jakarta started on March 20, to help the government in the country’s fight to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Volunteers and health workers also joined the initiative. Initially, the Serviam Vaccination Centre was scheduled to be operational until June 10.
Indonesia’s pandemic surge
Indonesia on Wednesday surpassed 100,000 confirmed deaths, a grim milestone in a country struggling with its worst pandemic wave fueled by the Delta variant. The largest among south-east Asian nations has recorded more than 3.5 million Covid-19 cases since March 2020. July was its deadliest month since the pandemic began, with more than 30,100 deaths — more than triple the 7,914 reported in June.
It took 14 months for the world's fourth most populous country to exceed the 50,000-death mark at the end of May, and just over nine weeks to double it. The Health Ministry recorded 1,747 new deaths of Covid-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 100,636. The figures are believed to be an undercount.
Its current per capita death rate is one of the worst in the region, second only to Myanmar. The World Health Organization says Indonesia’s hospitals are in need of isolation rooms, oxygen supplies, medical and personal protective equipment, as well as mobile field hospitals and body bags.
Catholic Church lends a hand
The Catholic Church in Indonesia has been seeking ways to help in the nation’s fight against the virus, with many institutions offering some of their facilities for the treatment or isolation of patients and reaching out to those who have been hit by the impact of closures.
Jakarta Archdiocese has turned its Samadi Pastoral Centre into an isolation ward. Personnel and staff of the St. Carolus Hospital, which is managed by the Charles Borromeo sisters and a government health center in the area, are helping run the facility. The center accepts patients regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status, as long as they have mild and asymptomatic symptoms of the disease.