Holy See Urges More Aid for Home-based Caregivers

Points to Plight of Poor, Immigrant Health Workers

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NEW YORK, MARCH 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Those who care for the sick in homes need more training, funds and support, says the Holy See.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, affirmed this today in an address to the U.N. Economic and Social Council. He was considering the topic of the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS.

«Community-based care and worldwide support for those suffering from this disease remain essential,» the archbishop affirmed. «Home-based care is the preferred means of care in many social and cultural settings, and is often more sustainable and successful over the long term when based within communities.

«In fact, when many members of a community are involved in care and support, there is less likely to be stigma associated with the disease.»

However, the prelate lamented, «community- and home-based care is largely unrecognized, and many caregivers face precarious financial situations.»

He noted: «Very little of the funds spent every year on providing assistance to those who are suffering as well as on much needed research to combat the disease go to supporting them. Studies have shown that community- and home-based caregivers actually experience more stress than medical personnel; so better support must be provided for these persons, particularly women and older persons who are caregivers.»


The Holy See official gave particular attention to the plight of poor and immigrant women in societies where «a true market has emerged in the area of home-based caregiving,» but in which «women, above all, are found in situations of vulnerability due to non-regularization, social isolation, difficult working conditions and at times exploitation of every kind.»

Archbishop Migliore affirmed that governments should recognize that public institutions face lower costs because of family-based caregiving, «and should thus adopt migration laws aimed at creating social integration and full protection of immigrant caregivers and fostering social integration.»

«Likewise,» he said, «supporting an appropriate professional formation that offers to home-based caregivers basic knowledge of health and psychology would upgrade their invaluable activity and eventually shield them from easy and reprehensible types of exploitation.»

The archbishop went on to affirm that «care in itself must become a topic of public debate and take on an importance capable of shaping political life and giving men and women the ability to be more concerned for the needs of others, more empathetic and able to focus on others.»

«Care, in this sense,» he said, «has the capacity to create a process of democratization of society and to foster a public awareness aimed at social and effective justice and solidarity for all women and men.»

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On ZENIT’s Web site:

Full text of address: http://www.zenit.org/article-25320?l=english

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