02/02/2016, 13.00
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Msgr. Mascarenhas: A hospital for the poor and tribals in Ranchi

Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas is the Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi, Jharkahand. The hospital will have 500 beds and will train nurses and health workers among "their own people". The bishop has tribal origin and underlines the importance of reinvigorating the pride of their culture "in the formation of faith."

Ranchi (AsiaNews) - In a rural area "near the Archdiocese of Ranchi, Constant Lievens Hospital and Medical College will soon be established, a 500-bed hospital that will aim to provide medical care especially for the tribal and marginalized people”, says Mgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, auxiliary bishop of Ranchi, in the eastern Indian state of Jharkahand.

The bishop expressed high expectations for the launch of this project, initiated by the Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI): "But we need everyone’s financial support and spiritual".

Jharkahand is among the poorest states in the Union. It is inhabited mostly by impoverished and illiterate tribal people, where the birth and infant mortality rate is very high. Msgr. Mascarenhas says: "Visiting the villages was a new experience for me. Even if you are an Indian, in my whole life I had never seen so much poverty, lack of education and health care".

According to the CBCI Society for Medical Education North India, in the State of Jharkahand 43,96% of the population lives below the poverty line; 12.5% ​​of the population suffers from lack of food, compared to a national average of 2.3%.

As for access to medical care, almost 80% of births take place at home, in precarious sanitary conditions. In addition, the rate of maternal mortality is high for both the children and the mothers.

It is estimated that each year 371 women die per 100 thousand births, while 45% of them have fertility problems and a further 30% contract infections. As for the new born, there are 69 deaths per 1,000 births.

Faced with this healthcare and social emergency, the CBCI has decided to build a hospital here. "This - says Mgr. Mascarenhas, who is also executive director of the Project Committee - is one of the most important projects, important and necessary that the Bishops' Conference of India have launched in the field. The plan involves the construction of a hospital with 500 beds, to provide adequate medical care to the poor and the tribals. We also want to train doctors and nurses among our people, so that they can take care of themselves".

According to the bishop, the provision of adequate health care must go hand in hand with the improvement of living conditions of the tribals. In particular, he believes that tribal roots and tribal culture should be valued: " The most serious challenges faced by the tribals of Chotanagpur are: lack of quality education-lack of strong faith formation-lack of value education; Lack of sense and pride of tribal identity among the tribals; migration and trafficking; forced displacement; and alcoholism".

This is why " Regional Bishops' council of Jharkhand along with the Religious communities have decided on several measures including issuing a pastoral letter to dioceses for a follow up; orienting and motivating parents, teachers and students; ensuring that in our schools there is proper catechism, moral education and inputs on tribal history and culture; restoration and rehabilitation of the victims of forced migration, trafficking and displacement to be achieved through networking with NGOs and other concerned agencies; promoting hostel and boarding facilities for tribal children; the effective implementation of the national education policy; promoting small Christian communities (SCC); and emphasizing tribal ethos and culture in education and faith formation".

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