Holy See backs global health goals, says ‘leave no one behind’

The Vatican has voiced support for global health care goals and has said that Catholic institutions are committed to combating problems like communicable diseases.

“The Holy See delegation welcomes the vital emphasis on the dignity of the human person and the strong focus on equity expressed in the pledge that ‘no one will be left behind’,” said Bishop Jean-Marie Mupendawatu.

The bishop headed the Holy See’s delegation to the World Health Organization’s World Health Assembly, held in Geneva May 23-28.

The assembly reviewed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has 17 goals and 169 associated targets. The agenda was adopted by the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit.

The agenda’s goals through the year 2030 include ending poverty and hunger while providing universal health care and education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, energy access, economic growth and employment, security, sustainability, and conservation.

Bishop Mupendawatu said the agenda’s implementation was “ambitious” and will ensure “the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally viable future for our planet and for present and future generations.”

The bishop praised the goal of ensuring health and well-being for people of all ages. He noted its key aim of universal health care.

Bishop Mupendawatu said the Holy See wanted to reiterate Catholic health care institutions’ commitment to end the AIDS epidemic, tuberculosis, and malaria as well as tropical disease and other communicable diseases.

He said practical action is more critical where health interactions are less clear, like the link between climate change and the spread of vector-born disease.

“With regard to action to combat climate change and its impacts on health, my delegation wishes to underscore the need for more political will and strong commitment from civil societies in order to reach truly meaningful and effective global agreements on the environment,” he said.

He criticized obstacles to global agreement like countries that “place their national interests above the global common good.”

The bishop cited Pope Francis’ encyclical on the care of creation, “Laudato Si,” which recommended a global perspective for proposed solutions.

“A global consensus is essential for confronting the deeper problems, which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions on the part of individual countries,” the Pope wrote. “Such a consensus could lead, for example, to planning a sustainable and diversified agriculture, developing renewable and less polluting forms of energy, encouraging a more efficient use of energy, promoting a better management of marine and forest resources, and ensuring universal access to drinking water.”

Bishop Mupendawatu also pointed to several upcoming events relevant to global health.

The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and the Nippon Foundation will host a June 9-10 symposium on the subject of holistic care for people with leprosy. The Knights of Malta, the Raoul Follereau Foundation and the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation are supporting the symposium in Rome.

Additionally, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers will host its 31st International Conference Nov. 10-12. The subject of this conference is the issue of rare and neglected tropical diseases. Experts from over 60 countries are expected to attend.

“You are all invited to offer your valuable contribution towards this initiative,” the bishop told assembly delegates.

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