Church in Angola Aims to Improve Health Care

Bishops´ Conference Meets With Government Aide

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LUANDA, Angola, MAR. 26, 2001 ( Angola´s health-care sector is on the critical list, and the Church is looking for wider cooperation with the government to improve the situation.

«The health sector in Angola is one of the most problematic, mirroring the lack of facilities in which the political and military situation continues to keep the country,» said Father João Caniço, director of the country´s Catholic press office.

He linked the deplorable health situation to the degradation of social service buildings and structures, and especially to the spread of serious diseases like sleeping sickness and AIDS in this southern African nation of 10.1 million people.

Given that the Angolan Catholic bishops are increasingly concerned about the matter, as are other churches and nongovernmental organizations, the bishops invited Health Minister Albertina Hamukwaia to their conference´s plenary assembly, being held here.

The bishops said the Church has done much in the health field, especially over the past decade. The care of patients with sleeping sickness, for instance, has been relegated almost exclusively to Caritas, the Church´s humanitarian organization.

The bishops now want a more systematic approach to health questions. They say it is urgent to sign agreements with the government, to ensure that service to the impoverished population is not interrupted.

The Health Minister admitted at the meeting that the problems are grave, and said that «all contributions are necessary, especially those of the Catholic Church.» Several steps were suggested, to continue the dialogue on matters of health at a high level between the Church and state.

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