Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian church pivots from spiritual to medical service to address COVID-19 needs


A circular issued by Mar Theodosius Mar Thoma Metropolitan, head of the Thiruvalla-headquartered church, has directed all congregations to open emergency treatment centres for COVID-19 patients.

In the ongping COVID-19 crisis, parishes under the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church are opening up to groups beyond their usual congregants โ€” patients and health care professionals.

A circular issued by Mar Theodosius Mar Thoma Metropolitan, head of the Thiruvalla-headquartered church, has directed all congregations to open emergency treatment centres for COVID-19 patients in consultation with the respective vicars, administrative councils and executive committee. It further suggests the constitution of volunteer groups in each parish, to prepare a list of people under treatment and quarantine to ensure medical support and food supply.

โ€œThese volunteer groups should also work towards ensuring the funeral of the people dying of the pandemic. It will be ideal if they could take care of the patients who are elderly and live in solitudeโ€, read the circular.

The functioning of each of these groups, to be comprised of healthcare experts, will be coordinated by office bearers of the Mar Thoma Yuvajana Sakhyam. They are also required to coordinate with hospitals and other institutions of the church for availing ambulances.

It was suggested that economically sound parishes and individuals make generous contributions to ensure adequate stock of medical supplies in all congregations. โ€œTo the parishes that are economically backward, the medical kits should be delivered free of cost by the Episcopa of the concerned diocese.โ€

The circular further called for the setting up of helplines, comprising expert medical professionals under the respective Diocesan Bishops, to coordinate the functioning of the volunteer groups, besides offering directions in cases of emergency.

Confirming the move, Rev. K.G. Joseph, Sabha secretary, said the programme aimed to turn the parishes as a point of contact between healthcare officials and marginalised communities, also making them conduits of information about the disease and prevention.

โ€œTo begin with, a grant of one lakh rupees will be allotted to the diocese that are unable to provide medical care on their own. The programme seeks to cover patients cutting across caste and community lines,โ€ he said.

As per estimates, the Mar Thoma church has over one thousand congregations under it in Kerala alone.

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