The entire world is still facing the pandemic Covid-19 outbreak and in the so-called developed countries the vaccination campaign proceeds. But what do we know about the developing countries or the poorest countries?

Pope Francis during his meeting with the Campus Bio-Medical Foundation, encouraging their work and service, reminds: "We must put at the center the care of the person, without forgetting the importance of science. Care without science is vain, science without care is sterile. The two go together, and only together do they make medicine an art. The products of science, if offered alone, remain band-aids capable of dabbing the evil but not of curing it in depth".

The Pope appeals: "Catholic health care testifies with facts that there are no unworthy lives or lives to be discarded because they do not respond to the criterion of profit or to the demands of profit".( Vatican News

This is true, for example, for vaccines: it is urgent to help countries that have less, but it must be done with forward-looking plans. Remedies must be distributed with dignity to all, not simply for the sake of securing the wealthiest nations, but to ensure that all human beings have access to treatment. The human factor must be the priority, not profit.

According to the New York Times interactive tracker, provided by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford, more than 3.77 billion people worldwide have received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, equal to about 49.1 percent of the world population, as shown in the map.

(Credits: New York Times)

“Less wealthy countries are relying on a vaccine-sharing arrangement called Covax, which originally aimed to provide two billion doses by the end of the year but has repeatedly cut its forecasts because of production problems, export bans and vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations. In its latest projection, it expected to have a total of 1.4 billion doses available by the end of 2021.
This has led to a striking divide between regions of the world. Africa has the slowest vaccination rate of any continent, with just 7.7 percent of the population receiving at least one dose of a vaccine”.

In addition, the most disadvantaged countries often face problems related to other risk factors, such as climate change and disasters. Natural, technological and human-made hazards, together with the inability of the population to cope with the events, cause disasters of different types. The consequences are damages and devastation and most of the time it’s difficult for the communities to go back to normality with their own resources.

Recently, floods hit Kerala, India, and drought in several areas of Kenya, such as Wajir County, which left people in precarious conditions and in need of food, water, medical care and basic necessities. Damage to homes is countless due to flooding, and livestock deaths due to drought cause hunger, and water shortages can lead to serious illness. These disasters have impacted the management of the Covid-19 pandemic in these two countries.

In particular, in India only 51% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine, while in Kenya just 6.3%. Crowding in evacuation and food station centers seeking desperately for assistance, most likely will compromise the public health safety measures and defeat the vaccination campaign objectives. In other countries around the world, the situation is even worse.

In these areas CADIS International, with the help of local partners, is carrying on emergency interventions to bring help and relief to the communities.

As the CTF- India National Director Fr. Baby Ellickal, MI, reminds us “Every natural disaster teaches us spiritual lessons and makes us realize the value of life we live. What can we learn from an earthquake? Engineers talk of weak constructions and the need for quake-proof structures, politicians talk of disaster-management plans; social organizations talk of relief measures and physical rehabilitation; mental health professional talks of psychological rehabilitation; medical expert talks of prevention of epidemics; seismologist talks of research into prediction of earthquakes. But we have never considered the spiritual lessons that we - as a human race - can learn from such an event”.

This is true as the Covid-19 pandemic has posed new and urgent challenges that the entire world, in equal measure, must address. In this new global context, it is important not to underestimate the spiritual sphere, the emotional accompaniment of those closely affected by the pandemic, and the interconnectedness of human beings. Faith-based foundations and organizations have always addressed this issue in humanitarian, emergency and resilience projects, with CADIS International as a direct testimony to this.

To face the new global challenges from now to the near future it is necessary to strengthen the collaboration between national and governmental institutions and religious and faith-based organizations and communities.
For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) has organized a series of Conferences to achieve joint health goals, mitigate the negative effects of health emergencies and ultimately help to bring them to an end. 

In fact, “Throughout history religious leaders, faith-based organizations, and faith communities at all levels, have played a key role in health emergency preparedness and response, and in many places, in ongoing health service delivery”. (WHO

During the first session in October 20, the testimonies of two Camillians, Father John Mosoti, Camillian Chaplain, Servants of the Sick, Kenya and Father John Toai, MI, Director and Founder, Mai Tam House of Hope, Vietnam, have focused on the importance of being close to patients affected by Covid-19 also from the spiritual point of view.

Father John Mosoti has recalled when the pandemic outbreak was declared in Kenya the first reaction was confusion. Then he organized a chat with other chaplains to get informed by national and secure channels and to spread the voice about how to prevent infection, trying also to give relief to people. The virtual connection with other chaplains was fundamental to give care and support to the patients. To overcome isolation and restrictions of the population imposed by the government, the chaplains organized calls to give spiritual care and prayers to patients and families.

Father John Toai, a nurse and a counselor by profession working in the intensive care unit for Covid-19 in Vietnam has focused on the status of the Covid-19 patients. They feel isolated, most of the time dying alone without meeting the family one last time nor receiving a funeral rite, an important moment for the family to be together and to realize the loss. The psychosocial consequences for Covid-19 patients are several, such as panic and fear, shame, depression or anger, suicidal feelings, being abandoned by the society and by their families. The palliative cure is to keep in touch with them, rebuilding the sense of self and to help the contact with the family. Instilling hope, praying together, listening to their story can rebuild their faith in life, with the help of the medical staff.


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