Official Notes Holy See Concern for Health Systems

Points to Effects of Recession for Developing Nations

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GENEVA, Switzerland, JUNE 3, 2009 ( The Holy See is worried about how the economic crisis is threatening the health care systems of developing nations, according to a Vatican official.

This was affirmed at the 62nd World Health Assembly by the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski. The assembly was held in Geneva from May 18 to 27. The delegation of the Holy See was headed by Archbishop Zimowski and included Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva.

«The current economic crisis has revealed the specter of the cancellation or drastic reduction of foreign aid programs, above all in developing countries,» Archbishop Zimowski lamented. He noted that this situation «dramatically places their health care systems in risky situations, systems which are already collapsed because of the widespread occurrence of endemic illnesses, epidemics and viruses.»

The Vatican official noted how Benedict XVI affirmed to the G-20 leaders that the crisis will be overcome only by working together and avoiding nationalist egotism and protectionism.

The prelate went on to mention the «great importance and particular responsibility of organizations with a religious nature, and of thousands of health care institutions founded by the Church, in the support of and care for people who live in poverty.»

In this regard, Archbishop Zimowski affirmed that these institutions suffer the economic crisis to a heightened degree, given that they generally do not enjoy government financial support or international funds.

Nevertheless, he assured that these institutions will continue their work, convinced of the value of human life and other values.

At the roots

Archbishop Zimowski also reported on an investigation carried out by his dicastery since 1998, and encouraged by the World Health Organization. The research aimed to determine the challenges that the international community should face in order to achieve health care for everyone. The prelate explained that research through local Churches has shown that one of the greatest challenges is the lack of a principle of equality.

«A decade later, I should note, unfortunately, that in the majority of countries, this challenge continues to be current,» he stated.

The Vatican official also assured the assembly that the Holy See is eager for the resolution regarding determinant social factors for health, which was submitted for approval to the World Health Assembly.

This resolution is a call to governments to develop objectives and strategies to improve public health.

Finally, Archbishop Zimowski noted the Holy See’s concern for «millions of children around the world who do not fully develop their potential because of the great differences and injustices existing in the health care field.»

«We cannot,» he said, «permit these defenseless children, their parents, and other adults of the poorest communities of the world to become more and more vulnerable because of the global economic crisis, extensively stoked by egotism and greed.»

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