Church Mission Society partners in India issue call to prayer for ‘devastating’ Covid situation

Patients and ambulances outside building with bright red EMERGENCY sign above entrance

A patient arrives at the Covid-specific entrance to the casualty department at Christian Medical College Hospital in Vellore, India.

Doctors and other personnel working at the Christian Medical College [CMC] in Vellore, a Christian hospital long supported by Church Mission Society, have today issued an urgent call to prayer for hospitals throughout the country, for the provision of vital medical equipment and above all oxygen, in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping across India.   

Harry and Jane Searle*, who are based at CMC, one of India’s largest hospitals, said, “The situation India is facing is critical. The number of people infected continues to climb but our medical teams are being hampered by a lack of beds, insufficient oxygen needed to treat Covid patients, and shortfalls in experienced, qualified staff.” Currently, CMC are focusing their efforts on sourcing and purchasing an additional oxygen generator, and other lifesaving equipment like portable oxygen concentrators and positive air pressure devices. These will supply the oxygen Covid patients desperately need.

CMC has rapidly increased the number of beds available for Covid patients to over 560 and is aiming to add another 1,000 as quickly as possible. Ninety-three ICU beds have been re-purposed for Covid care. An additional ICU unit is due to open in the coming days but the hospital still faces the prospect of having to turn people away as the number of new infections continues to surge. “We can save the lives of the majority of Covid infected people, even those with severe breathing difficulties, provided we have enough beds and oxygen. But the ICU beds fill up as quickly as we create them, and there are still people waiting”, Searle said. “When there are no beds, or long delays in giving oxygen, people will die.”

Nurse in full blue PPE attends hospital bed
Intensive care for Covid patients in CMC Hospital, Vellore

Searle explained that CMC have recently launched a campaign to procure more ventilators and portable oxygen concentrators although with delays in the supply chain it could be weeks before the new machinery is on site. Locally fears are also growing that the number of infections could climb even higher in the coming weeks despite a vaccination programme that has seen 25,000 people vaccinated at CMC alone since January, and over 140 million people throughout the country.

CMC is one of the foremost medical facilities in India with a network of campuses providing over 3,000 beds. Situated in southern India between Chennai and Bangalore, CMC was established in 1900 by American missionaries and has become a highly regarded educational, healthcare and research institute that continues to adhere to the Christian faith-based principles on which it was founded.

Suzane Christie, communications manager at Asia-CMS, said: “The situation in India is nothing short of devastating and for many of us, it has hit very close to home. Too many of our mission partners and team members have been either directly affected with Covid or are dealing with a loved one who is affected. Several have lost close relatives and friends.

“Our partners on the ground are dealing with a lot of emotional and physical stress right now and are very much in need of prayer support – mainly for family members, for their health, for their overwhelmed health system, and for their mental health as well.”

* Names have been changed for security reasons.

Published 4 May 2021

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