Pre-Corona well off are begging for food, says Pakistani Church leader
By Sheraz Khan
GAITHERSBERG, MARYLAND (ANS)– Bishop Dr Ijaz Inayat, a church leader of Pakistan, has said that an inadequate support from the government and the third sector to people in the midst of the Corona virus has even forced previously well off people to beg for food.
“The government has announced a one-off payment of 12000 Pakistani rupees (approximately US$ 72.14) to people who have been hit hard by the pandemic. This is not nearly sufficient.”, said Dr Ijaz Inayat, a former Bishop of Church of Pakistan, who is currently visiting the U.S.
He expressed his regret that Pakistan being a developing country doesn’t have schemes comparable to Payroll Protection Program in the U.S. or a furlough scheme in the UK under which the governments of the two countries are supporting employers to keep employees in jobs.
Dr Inyat deplored the absence of any support system in Pakistan for people to fall back on in the midst of the corona virus, stating the poorest in Pakistan have been hit the hardest with the advent of the Corona virus in Pakistan.
Pointing to a recent escalation in the number of the Corona virus cases in India Dr Inayat feared that the already stretched Pakistani healthcare system wouldn’t be able to cope at all with the demand should the number of the Corona virus cases begin rising.
According to an estimate the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in the Pakistani capital Islamabad has only 20 ventilators.
In the rural areas, Dr Inayat said, people are self-medicating themselves from COVID-19 symptoms by using herbal medicines or with aspirin.
“I am deeply concerned how the healthcare system will cope if the caseload of coronavirus begins increasing comparable to the neighboring India”, said Dr Inayat.
Recent media reports suggest that India is reporting more than 75000 Corona virus cases daily, the fastest-growing coronavirus caseload of any country in the world.
Pakistan, according to worldometer https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/pakistan/, a website that records the number of the Corona virus cases, deaths and recoveries, states that Pakistan has reported nearly 300,000 cases, and the virus has claimed 6,359 deaths.
Dr Inayat doubts if the number of current Pakistani Corona virus cases reflects the true number of the Corona virus cases in the country and attributes his skepticism to the faulty testing kits.
Asked if Pakistan had gone into lockdown following a rise in the number of the Corona virus cases, Dr Inayat said the authorities had slapped a “smart lockdown” in areas which reported a disproportionately higher number of the corona virus cases. Dr Inayat said that the spread of the Corona virus in Pakistan has forced people on daily wages to eat just one meal a day.
Asked how the Helping Hands For Humanity (H-Cube) Welfare Organization, a non-governmental organization he heads, is helping the poorest victims of the Corona virus. He said: “We have assisted lots of people in poverty-stricken areas during the pandemic. If we had the resources, we would love to assist more people in the poverty-stricken areas across Pakistan”.
Asked what form a long-term poverty-alleviation strategy in Pakistan should take, Dr Inayat said the government should launch schemes aimed at lifting people out of poverty at the grass roots level. This is the only way people in need could be reached, said Dr Inayat. “Any poverty alleviation project should be accessible to people most in need”.
Dr Inayat stated that while he appreciated the need for handing out food rations to people in the middle of the pandemic, he believes that practical steps should be taken to make people self-reliant.
On education in the post-corona virus scenario, Dr Inayat said that while educational institutions in the high-income countries around the world went online because they had means to do it. “In developing countries like Pakistan millions do not even have a computer”.
He said he was a strong believer that education can bring an incredible transformation in their lives, adding that Helping Hands was helping street children get education.
We aim to expand the project across Pakistan. These children have as much right to education as any other children in Pakistan or elsewhere in the world”, said Dr Ijaz Inayat. “Every individual should contribute no matter how small in making a difference in the life of the down-trodden.
If you would like to contact Bishop Dr Ijaz Inayat in relation to the street children project or with respect to Helping Hands for Humanity’s project aimed at helping people who have been hit hard by COVID-19, you can contact him by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org