Public health services have collapsed in Myanmar due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. In response, a mosque provides free supplies of medical oxygen to patients who are desperately in need.
“Initially, we thought of distributing meals to COVID quarantine centres like we did last year. But we changed our decision as we saw people in desperate need of medical oxygen”, said Zaw Min Latt of the Nwe Aye Sunni Jame Mosque.
The Mosque delivers oxygen free of charge to people in need, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, when the medics and funeral services have raised the toll.
The UN estimates that only 40% of Myanmar’s health care facilities are still able to function.
The functioning hospitals and medical facilities have been overwhelmed by the surge in coronavirus infections.
Many hospitals remain empty due to a work boycott by pro-democracy medical staff against the military regime that has ousted the elected government in February.
“The military government has not been able to manage the health crisis effectively”, Aung Myint Myat, a citizen, said in an interview with DW.
As demand rises, the price of a 49-litre oxygen tank jumped from $0.24 to $0.76.
Regardless, the Mosque orders oxygen supplies directly from the factories.
The Muslim community says it wants to join forces with the Buddhist majority in the fight against COVID.
“We are worried because we are Muslim and a minority here. Frankly speaking, we are concerned about the potential threat to us. We just want to fill in the gap and help people”, Zaw Min Latt of the Mosque Nwe Aye Sunni Jame said to the media.
“Authorities are now even forcing oxygen factories to close. We are struggling to get enough supplies to refill the oxygen tanks”, Myat added.
The UK recently warned that half of Myanmar’s 54million population could be infected with COVID in the next 14 days.