Vatican Calls Rich to Make Universal Health Care Possible

Laments That «Poor People Miss Out»

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GENEVA, Switzerland, MAY 24, 2011 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry says rich nations will have to show solidarity with poor countries if the right to health care is to become a reality.

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski said this in his address to the World Health Organization’s 64th World Health Assembly, which concluded today in Geneva.

The prelate noted the 2010 World Health Report, showing «on the whole, we are still a long way from universal coverage.»

«We are stalled in the status quo, where the rich people have higher levels of coverage, while most of the poor people miss out, and those who do have access often incur high, sometimes catastrophic costs in paying for services and medicine,» he said.

The prelate stated that to make universal coverage a possibility, nations need to raise funds, «reduce reliance on direct payments for services and improve efficiency and equity, thus removing the financial barriers to access, especially for poor and less advantaged people.»

But he said that low-income countries have little chance of making this happen.

«This sad fact highlights the need for a true global solidarity, in which high income countries do not only promise, but effectively meet their commitments on development assistance,» he said.


Archbishop Zimowski also spoke about HIV, reiterating a point the Vatican consistently makes about the need for education in behavior change and responsible living.

Similarly, he noted the need to encourage healthy lifestyles in regard to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

The prelate echoed other interventions in noting that «non-communicable diseases end up being communicable because of the transmission of the underlying behavior.»

«This underscores the importance of education to healthy lifestyles as a component of education to health and addressing the social determinants of health,» he said.

Finally, the Vatican representative spoke about child injury prevention. In this context, too, he appealed to the international community «to support transfer of knowledge on measures and instruments for the prevention of child injury to low- and middle-income countries, where 95% of the child injury deaths occur, and also help to improve emergency-care and rehabilitation services for non-fatal injuries in these settings.»

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