This has been a very challenging year for the whole world. As New Year dawned last January, who would have believed that we would be in the grips of the Covid pandemic at the close of the year?
My wife and I were in India in early March, intending to visit CMCH for the Governing Body meeting. The Indian government was early to recognise the significance of the Coronavirus with extensive health checks at the airport and the withdrawal of foreign visas. Our airline cancelled all its flights to and from India including our booked return flight. We never made it to Ludhiana. The Governing Body meeting was cancelled at the same time as we were trying to find another airline to return urgently to the UK.
Covid has had its effect on CMCH in Ludhiana. There has been a memorandum of understanding that CMCH would accept the transfer of patients with Covid from the Civil Hospital. CMCH has an out-patient clinic for reviewing possible Covid patients. It also created a new Covid ward and ITU. However, it seems the needs have exceeded the initial provision and in October it was noted that there were 31 beds available for invasive ventilation, 40 for CPAP treatment, 80 for high oxygen treatment and 50 ‘level one’ beds. The latest information we have received from them is that there have been a total of 1,200 admissions of whom 134 had died while an in-patient. The remainder were discharged home. The mortality rate is high but some of the transfers from the Civil Hospital were quite late and this distorts the figures.
The disease has had financial consequences for CMCH. The average cost for treating a Covid patient in CMCH has been 25,000 Rupees but the Indian government will only reimburse 18,000 Rupees. Similarly, the cost of testing a patient for coronavirus [for which CMCH had to obtain national accreditation] costs the hospital 5,200 Rupees but the government only refunds 2,400 Rupees. Other costs have increased – such as the use of oxygen, which is essential for managing severe cases. In September alone the oxygen supply bill was 14.8 lakh Rupees [about £16,000]. Obviously, PPE has been an additional expense.
As I write this, CMCH is going through a quiet period for Covid but there is no doubt that a second surge in the disease is affecting Delhi and it is only a matter of time before that surge reaches the Punjab. To continue to help with the financial demands, Friends of Ludhiana has sent a further £20,000 for the Covid work and also another £10,000 for the Good Samaritan Fund [part of which may well be used for Covid].
Of some concern is a recent report by Release International. Its spokesman, Andrew Boyd writes:
‘In India, attacks and false accusations against Christians are now almost a daily occurrence. It is radical Hindu extremists who believe that if you’re Indian, you have to be a Hindu, and nothing else will be tolerated. You get attacks against a church there on a weekly basis…….. Let’s pray for the persecutors themselves, not for regime change, but for a revelation of who Christ is and a revelation that freedom actually matters. If it matters to God, it has to matter to us. There could be some Sauls out there who could become Pauls.’
There seems to be little persecution at present in the area of Ludhiana but we must continue to pray that CMCH will continue to be a beacon for Jesus in the Punjab.
Thank you for your continuing support in prayer and financially. I wish you a blessed Christmas however it may be celebrated in the horrendous circumstances of this year.
Dr Keith R Hine