Delegates from the Presbyterian Church (USA), Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK), the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), Japan Mission/Kobe Christian Hospital and Yodogawa Christian Hospital gathered for a working group meeting organised by Council for World Mission (CWM) on 13 December 2022 in Singapore to discuss the Agape Hospital Relocation Project in Myanmar.
Established by the Presbyterian Church in Myanmar (PCM), Agape Hospital’s mission is to provide basic healthcare and make health services more accessible to the community in Chin State, which is under-served by medical facilities. On top of mobile clinics, it also provides scholarships to produce quality medical personnel. To date, over 10,000 out-patients, and over 1,000 inpatients have received healthcare from May to August this year, and it is now in need of a relocation due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the high demand for oxygen for COVID-19 patients.
This long-awaited project of PCM involves a 6-acre plot at the Children Development Centre compound allocated by the PCM General Assembly, and the re-location is necessary as the hospital faces space constraints at its current location. In addition, further development and upgrading of hospital staff through degree courses and internships is necessary, as well as the acquiring of new medical and hospital equipment. The construction of the new hospital will also require layout planning, blueprinting, and funding.
Speaking on the existing development and situation in Myanmar, PCM General Secretary Rev. Ramthanga said: “Since the outbreak of the pandemic and even when the military coup took place with confrontations and riots, the Agape Hospital has been very useful to the community. It has served in an outstanding manner, so I am very proud of having Agape Hospital for the church and community in such a difficult situation.”
Agreeing and recognising the need for and potential of developing the existing Agape Hospital, Rev. Philip Woods, PC(USA) Associate Director for Global Strategy and Programme, who chaired the meeting, added: “Many of us who are Partners of PCM have visited the hospital in Tahan and are familiar with the site being proposed for the redevelopment and relocation. We decided to start working on developing this project by forming a consortium of partners particularly of the Asian Christian Hospital Association who have the resources and expertise to accompany the PCM in this development.”
Referring to it as “a life-saving project to overcome the catastrophic loss of tens of thousands lives during the pandemic due to the lack of healthcare and medical equipment in Northern Myanmar”, CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, said: “While the CWM family shared the grief of PCM and Tahan Theological College (TTC) for the tragic loss of their beloved leaders, we ought to respond to God’s calling to be life-flourishing communities. Therefore, CWM takes initiative in partnership with the East Asian region, PCM partner Churches and ecumenical organisations to build a modern hospital in Tahan-Kalaymyo with one hundred beds.”
The preliminary plan is to design the masterplan of the building in Phase 1 by August 2023, followed by fundraising among CWM’s Asian member churches and Reformed Churches in Phase 2, before proceeding to the final phase.
“It is a feasible project because we have experience of constructing the new campus of TTC which was a bigger project with the same partners. I would like to appeal to the CWM member churches, mission partners, and Christian hospitals to pray and support this project to save the lives of suffering people in Myanmar,” Dr Keum added.
The subsequent meeting gathered PCM partners from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ), the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, and the Presbyterian World Mission of PC(USA) for further discussion and updates on their respective areas of collaboration and contribution. PCANZ General Secretary Rev. Phil King and Chair of the PCM Partners group summarised PCANZ’s activities in Myanmar, and PCT delegate Dr Natalie Lin received the request to extend PCT’s one-month hospital-related training to four to six months, among others.
The meeting was adjourned after the closing prayer offered by PROK Executive Secretary, Rev. Sungkook Park.
Dated 14 December 2022