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Christian minority take key role in Covid-19 response in Bangladesh

by Premier Journalist

Despite making up less than half a per cent of the Muslim-majority population, Christians across Bangladesh have been playing a huge part in the country's response to Covid-19. 

There are some 280 Christian doctors and roughly 4,000 Christian nurses currently working in Bangladesh, most of whom have been actively involved in treating patients with Covid-19 and working to stop the spread of the virus. 

Dr. Edward Pallab Rozario, vice-president of the Christian Medical Association of Bangladesh (CMAB) told UCA News that the medics have "taken great risks in serving Covid-19 patients and some of them and their family members have been infected...yet they were not disheartened and returned to work after recovering".

Rozario added that other doctors have been "offering online and mobile services to patients" during the crisis.

There are currently 20 hospitals operated by Catholics and Protestants in Bangladesh, according to the CMAB. In addition, the Catholic Church runs about 70 community clinics, mainly in rural areas, that have taken the brave decision to continue to treat people throughout the pandemic. 

"Christians might be a small minority but they are a significant minority, which they have demonstrated again during this pandemic," said Mithushilak Murmu, a Christian writer and researcher who has been keeping track of the contribution made by Christian hospitals during the pandemic. "They have dedicated whatever resources they have to be a part of the national battle." 

In Chokoria in Cox’s Bazar, the Memorial Christian Hospital has set up a laboratory for Covid-19 testing and built a Covid-19 isolation unit. In addition, the Lutheran Aid to Medicine in Bangladesh (LAMB) Hospital in Parbotipur in Dinajpur district launched a ten-bed Covid-19 intensive care unit back in late March. 

"Christians have been engaged in an undeclared war against Covid-19,” Murmu added. 

Alongside churches, Christian charities have also been at the forefront of the Covid-19 battle. Faith-based relief organisation World Vision Bangladesh has pledged financial aid to more than 18,000 families and food aid to over 35,000 households. In addition, the Christian Commission for Development of Bangladesh (CCDB) has assisted some 7,000 families affected by the pandemic, while Catholic charity Caritas has distributed money, food and health aid provisions to 44,000 families.

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