OF THE HOLY SEE TO THE
OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OPEN WORKING GROUP
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
17-19 June 2013)
an institution deeply committed to promoting and providing access to health
care, my delegation considers that this discussion provides a welcome
opportunity for the international community to recommit to a truly
human-centered path for health care and demographic changes. At the outset, however, we note with concern a
tendency in United Nations settings to link “health” with “population concerns”
in a way that reduces human health care concerns to an equation resolved merely
by reducing the numbers of people in need of help rather than a proper focus on
serving those who seek access to a wide range of basic health care services.
Holy See has consistently advocated for the right to basic health care for all,
which, through its numerous institutions world wide, it has committed
itself to realizing in every region of the world. Today, the Catholic Church is one of the
largest providers of health care in the world. Globally, this represents some 5,400
hospitals, 17,500 dispensaries, 567 leprosaria and 15,700 homes for the
elderly or handicapped. These efforts demonstrate the tangible commitment of
the Holy See to promote real access to health care throughout the life-cycle: from
the moment of conception until natural death. Therefore, if we wish to make
real progress in this regard in our post-2015 sustainable development agenda, international
and governmental leadership cannot fail to take into account the vast
experience and expertise of these institutions, respecting at the same time their
unique mission as religious organizations.
creating and adopting new goals on health for the 2015 development framework,
the Holy See calls on States to move beyond an exhausted, stereotyped and fatal
logic reducing this goal to merely sexual and reproductive health, which
masquerades a nihilistic defeatism, positing as a health “service” the deliberate,
systemic destruction of nascent human life and instead embrace a holistic
understanding of the human person and their health care needs. Every day, 19,000 children under the age of
five die from preventable causes of death.
Only around half the people in the world who need access to HIV and AIDS
treatment are able to access it – 25% of these find it only in our Catholic
hospitals and clinics – while another 660,000 and 1.4 million people perish
needlessly each year from malaria and tuberculosis respectively. Lack of access to basic health care is not a
burden borne by developing countries alone, with 100 million people in
developed countries pushed into poverty by escalating health-care costs each
and every year.
this reality all the more tragic is the fact that the global community has the
financial and technical ability to save millions of lives each and every year,
if only it were no longer willing to acquiesce to this sad reality. The only thing preventing us from adopting a
global commitment to provide universal access to basic medicines and
technologies is the continued protection of unbridled greed for profits. Let us
break this selfish logic of profit in the face of human dignity, and replace it
with a logic of care, of the selflessness and solidarity for those in need for
which health-care was formerly known.
about demographic changes within societies is a useful tool for understanding
and responding to the needs of those communities. Rather than using demographic statistics as a
means for better understanding and for serving communities, however, my
delegation views with dismay the continued defaulting to outdated and
discredited Malthusian mechanics of development that disregard human life as an
end in itself and consider human beings as obstacles to development.
harsh consequences of this obsession is glaringly evident in ageing communities
in many societies which promote this agenda, and the loss of millions of creative
individuals who never had the opportunity to be born and contribute their human
potential to the sustainable development of our communities.
The Holy See believes that instead of increasing yet again our financial commitment to preventing the gift of life, let us
dedicate our efforts rather to protecting
and saving the lives of the millions who die needlessly from preventable causes each and every year, by embracing a broader health-care vision than merely the
In so doing, we may not only achieve political goals for sustainable
development but also, and more
fundamentally: save lives.
Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair.