Church charity funds oxygen machine for pandemic-hit Iraq

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Iraq is witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases to more than 500,000
UCA News Reporter Bashar Warda, archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil. (Photo: Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil)

An international Catholic charity has approved funds to despatch an oxygen generating machine to a Catholic hospital in northern Iraq, where Covid-19 continues to spread.

The charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has approved over US$65,000 for the installation of an oxygen generator system in Maryamana Catholic Hospital in Erbil, the capital of semi-autonomous Kurdistan.

Iraq is witnessing a surge in pandemic cases and has reported more than 500,000, the charity said on its website.

The charity approved the funds following the request of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil. He sought the agency’s help, saying “we are very badly affected” by the pandemic.

The Catholic community and the internally displaced people of all faiths “look to the archdiocese to help them. We need a constant supply as oxygen is the most vital tool against the virus,” his request letter said.

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The archbishop said caring for pandemic-hit people is essential in Erbil. It is home to many refugees and displaced people. In the Nineveh Plains, some 70 percent of people are unemployed, he said.

Archbishop Warda expressed concerns over the virus spreading, affecting Christian communities too. Private hospitals are prohibitively expensive for Covid-19 care, while state hospital beds are full.

The diocese expects to treat 70 Covid-19 patients a week.

The oxygen generator will be sent to Erbil from Turkey and will take a week to install. The objective is to have it up and running before Christmas.

ACN provided medical equipment for the Maryamana hospital when it started in in 2016.