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Holy See: Children, poor in developing world have right to medicine

Catholic World News - June 22, 2010

Speaking at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, lamented “the lack of access to affordable medicines and diagnostic tools that can be administered and utilized in low-income, low-technology settings.”

Archbishop Tomasi noted:

“Diseases of poverty” still account for 50% of the burden of disease in developing countries, nearly ten times higher than in developed countries; more than 100 million people fall into poverty annually because they have to pay for health care; in developing countries, patients themselves pay for 50 to 90% of essential medicines; nearly two billion people lack access to essential medicines.

“Many essential medicines have not been developed in appropriate formulations or dosages specific to pediatric use,” he added. “Thus families and health care workers often are forced to engage in a ‘guessing game’ on how best to divide adult-size pills for use with children. This situation can result in the tragic loss of life or continued chronic illness among such needy children. For example, of the 2.1 million children estimated to be living with HIV infection, only 38% were received life-saving anti-retroviral medications at the end of 2008.”

Archbishop Tomasi made his remarks on June 8; the Holy See Press Office released them on June 21.

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