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Those with rare diseases deserve equal access to effective healthcare, Pope says in message

November 14, 2016

Pope Francis reflected on the care of those who suffer from rare diseases in a November 12 message to participants in a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

The conference was the pontifical council’s 31st international conference since its foundation by St. John Paul II in 1985. On January 1, the pontifical council will cease to exist, and its work will be taken up by the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

“If the human person is the eminent value, it follows that each person, above all a person who suffers, because of a ‘rare’ or ‘neglected’ disease as well, without any hesitation deserves every kind of commitment in order to be welcomed, treated and, if possible, healed,” the Pope said in offering three “observations that can contribute to your reflections.”

Pope Francis continued, “A second observation that I would like to bring to your attention is that it remains a priority of the Church to keep herself dynamically in a state of ‘moving outwards,’ to bear witness at a concrete level to divine mercy, making herself a ‘field hospital’ for marginalized people who live in every existential, socio-economic, health-care, environmental and geographical fringe of the world.”

The Pope added:

The third and last observation relates to the subject of justice. Although it is true that care for a person with a ‘rare’ or ‘neglected’ disease is in large measure connected with the interpersonal relationship of the doctor and the patient, it is equally true that the approach, at a social level, to this health-care phenomenon requires a clear application of justice, in the sense of ‘giving to each his or her due,’ that is to say equal access to effective care for equal health needs, independently of factors connected with socio-economic, geographical or cultural contexts.

 
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