Pope Calls Health Care An ‘Inalienable Right,’ Urges World Governments To Provide Universal Coverage

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"Pope Calls Health Care An ‘Inalienable Right,’ Urges World Governments To Provide Universal Coverage"

At an international papal conference on health care yesterday at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI and other Catholic church leaders said it is the “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.” Saying access to adequate medical care is one of the “inalienable rights” of man, the pope said, “Justice in health care should be a priority of governments and international institutions”:

The pope lamented the great inequalities in health care around the globe. While people in many parts of the world aren’t able to receive essential medications or even the most basic care, in industrialized countries there is a risk of “pharmacological, medical and surgical consumerism” that leads to “a cult of the body,” the pope said.

The care of man, his transcendent dignity and his inalienable rights” are issues that should concern Christians, the pope said.

Because an individual’s health is a “precious asset” to society as well as to himself, governments and other agencies should seek to protect it by “dedicating the equipment, resources and energy so that the greatest number of people can have access.”

In a separate statement, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said, “Justice requires guaranteed universal access to health care,” adding that minimal levels of medical care are “a fundamental human right.” “Governments are obligated, therefore, to adopt the proper legislative, administrative and financial measures to provide such care,” the cardinal explained, saying that, “The governments of richer nations with good health care available should practice more solidarity with their own disadvantaged citizens.”

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