Holy See Urges More Cancer Therapy in Poor Nations

Stresses Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy

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VIENNA, Austria, SEPT. 22, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is exhorting the international community to use nuclear energy for peace and development, rather than war and destruction.

This was affirmed in an address delivered Tuesday in Vienna by Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, Vatican undersecretary for relations with states, at the 54th general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The five-day conference began Monday.

The Vatican delegate affirmed that «the International Atomic Energy Agency remains an irreplaceable point of reference for international cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and for integral human development.»

«In this regard,» he added, «the Holy See welcomes the Kingdom of Swaziland as a new member state» of the agency’s family.

Monsignor Balestrero stated: «These peaceful applications of nuclear techniques can in many ways make a significant contribution to responding to the most urgent concerns, for example, the management of drinking-water supplies, the production of crops which give an improved yield or have a greater salt tolerance in arid climates, the eradication of disease-bearing and otherwise harmful pests in an environmentally beneficial manner. 

«Among other things, they can be effectively used in the study of child malnutrition and in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.»

Radiation therapy

«In this context,» he continued, «I wish to mention the particular role of radio-nuclides used in the diagnosis and treatment of malignant diseases.»

«Radiation therapy is one of the fundamental treatments of cancer, and more than 50% of the patients diagnosed with this disease would benefit from that kind of therapy either applied alone or in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy,» the priest affirmed.

«Yet, in the developing world,» he added, «more than half of the number of patients suffering from cancer will not have access to radiotherapy due to the lack of appropriate equipment and sufficiently trained staff with expertise in clinical and medical physics.»

«In this context,» the delegate said, «the Holy See would like to single out the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT), which aims at increasing its capacity to assist member states in the tremendous task of combating cancer and creating regional centers of excellence for radiotherapy.»

He acknowledged that the agency «can look back with satisfaction on what has been achieved since its foundation under the three pillars of its mandate: technology, safety and verification.»

«Still, many challenges have to be faced in the future,» Monsignor Balestrero noted.

He continued, «Many of these have been underlined by the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Review Conference of which we have recently celebrated and to which states parties have recommitted themselves.»

The delegate affirmed that the Holy See regards this treaty «as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, as the basis to pursue nuclear disarmament and as an important element for further development of nuclear energy applications for peaceful purposes.»

Never weakened

Since the treaty «is the only multilateral legal instrument currently available, intended to bring about a nuclear weapons free world, it must never be allowed to be weakened,» he stated.

The priest added: «The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is also coming of the highest priority, as is the ratification of all states, in particular nuclear-weapon states, of the respective protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones Treaties. 

«In this regard, the Holy See restates its strong support for the efforts to establish such a zone in the Middle East.»

He observed that «nuclear-weapon-free zones are the best example of trust, confidence and affirmation that peace and security are possible without possessing nuclear weapons.»

Monsignor Balestrero concluded that «every step on the non-proliferation and disarmament agenda must be built on the principles of the pre-eminent and inherent value of human dignity and the centrality of the human person, which constitute the basis of international humanitarian law.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-30449?l=english

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