(Vatican Radio) The Holy See has made an intervention at the 69th World Health Assembly taking place in Geneva. The full intervention can be found below.

Intervention of the Holy See Delegation to the 69th World Health Assembly

23-28 May 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

Mr President,

1. My delegation, in conjunction with other delegations, wishes to commend the Secretariat for the Report on Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (WHA69/15),  which among others underscores the commitment to an integrated multi-sectorial approach  in which health is not only one of the several goals that are interlinked, but influences and is influenced by other goals and targets as an integral part of the sustainable development.

The implementation of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Goals and 169 associated targets will ensure the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally viable future for our planet and for present and future generations. 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.”  This in terms of health is expressed in goal 3 to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” which has 13 targets that are underpinned by universal coverage as the key to the achievement of all the others (WHA69/15 par. 25).

2. According to the UN Declaration (UN Res/70/1 par. 5) Sustainable development goals are “integrated and indivisible” in that progress in one area is dependent on progress in many others, they are also “global in nature and universally applicable “as they seek to be relevant to all countries.

One of the key challenges for the new Agenda is translating this basic principle of being “integrated and indivisible” into practical action, this is more critical where the synergies are less direct, like the link between climate change and the spread of vectors-borne diseases. 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. Often times, international negotiations cannot make significant progress due to positions taken by countries which place their national interests above the global common good.

Pope Francis in his recent encyclical letter Laudato Sì, on Care for Our Common Home, called for the need to think of a one world with a common plan.  He notes that “an interdependent world …motivates us to ensure that solutions are proposed from a global perspective, and not simply to defend the interests of a few countries… A global consensus is essential for confronting the deeper problems, which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions on the part of individual countries. 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.”

3. Finally, Mr President, in pursuit of the targets carried forward from the unfinished Agenda, the Holy See would like to reiterate the commitment of Catholic Health Care institutions to continue efforts to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical disease and combat other communicable diseases.  With regard to the later, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers together with the Nippon Foundation have organized a Symposium around the theme “Towards Holistic Care for People with Hansen’s Disease, Respectful of their Dignity, to take place in Rome this coming 9-10 June, with the purpose of addressing the triple challenge of reducing the disease burden, helping the sick and their families and integrating them into society. The Symposium is organized with the collaboration of the Raoul Follereau Foundation, the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation.

Later this year on November 10-12, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers will celebrate its 31st International Conference addressing the issue of Rare Diseases and Neglected Tropical Diseases, which will draw experts and participants from over 60 countries to discourse the problem of unattended diseases, especially those affecting the most vulnerable. You are all invited to offer your valuable contribution towards this initiative.

Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you all.

Msgr. Jean-Marie Mupendawatu

Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to

the 69th World Health Assembly

Cfr. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/1, paragraph 4.

Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Sì, n. 164.