Holy See Calls for Health Care Aid

Warns That Sickness Has No Borders

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is affirming that developing countries need continued aid, especially with health care, if the world is to recover from the current economic crisis.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, stated this today.

He gave the address at a High-Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council on «Current global and national trends and their impact on social development, including public health.»

The archbishop expressed concern for the World Bank predictions that 53-65 million more people will fall into extreme poverty by the end of this year, and that the number of «chronically hungry people» will exceed one billion.

The prelate affirmed that 800 million of these live in areas with weak public health systems, and that «innovative health care initiatives are urgent.»

Moreover, he pointed out, if there are cutbacks in international aid due to the economic recession, or if there is an increased number of people seeking health care, the «already fragile public health systems in developing countries» will be unable to care for «their most vulnerable citizens.»

The archbishop called for a solution to this problem, as an expression of solidarity as well as a «matter of justice.»

He explained that justice demands overcoming the «temptation to reduce public services for a short-term benefit against the long-term human cost.»

Critical factor

Archbishop Tomasi added that «aid for development should be maintained and even increased as a critical factor in renewing the economy and leading us out of the crisis.»

He pointed out that inequalities in public health must be eliminated, «between countries and within countries, and between racial and ethnic groups.»

The prelate emphasized the situation of women, who in many regions «receive poorer quality health care.»

He underlined the Catholic Church’s commitment to help in the «most isolated and marginalized areas and among people who rarely enjoy access to health care.»

In particular, the archbishop pledged the Church’s help in Africa, the dedication to «stand alongside the poorest people in this continent in order to uphold the inherent dignity of all persons.»

«In an increasingly interdependent world,» he pointed out, «even sickness and viruses have no boundaries, and therefore, greater global cooperation becomes not only a practical necessity, but more importantly, an ethical imperative of solidarity.»

This health care must be guided by the «best» tradition, Archbishop Tomasi added, that respects the «right to life from conception until natural death for all regardless of race, disability, nationality, religion, sex and socio-economic status.»

He highlighted the need to find «more than financial solutions to the challenges posed by the economic crisis to global efforts aimed at assuring universal access to health care.»

Quoting Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical, «Caritas in Veritate,» he stated, «Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic.»

The prelate called for an «ethical approach to development» that is «centered on the human person rather than profit.»

This model, he added, must include «the needs and aspirations of the entire human family.»

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Full text: http://zenit.org/article-26415?l=english

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