Protecting the Right to Health: Pope Francis’ Address to Italian Pediatricians and Otorhinolaryngologists

2023-11-18 12:27:53

Meeting with Italian pediatricians and otorhinolaryngologists in the Paul VI Hall, Francis warns against the double risk of the utopia of eliminating the disease and abandoning the weakest and most fragile. And on the aging of the population in Italy: “May young people rediscover the value and joy of being parents.” He highlights his warning to “protect the right to health undermined by the economic crisis”

Paolo Ondarza – Vatican City

“Two opposite and equally dangerous phenomena are spreading”: “The elimination of the limit” with “the search for health at all costs” and “the abandonment of the weakest and most fragile, in some cases the proposal of death as the only path”.

No to dehumanized procedures

In the audience in the Paul VI Hall with some two thousand members of the Italian Federation of Pediatricians and the Italian Association of Hospital Otorhinolaryngologists, Francis warned: “A medicine that renounces care and entrenches itself behind dehumanizing and dehumanizing procedures is no longer the art of healing”.

Proximity, compassion, tenderness

“The sick person,” he observes, “must be approached, however, with the attitude of the good Samaritan, who does not look away, but rather leans over the injured person and alleviates his suffering, without asking questions, without letting his heart and mind mind are closed by prejudice, without thinking about their own benefit. According to the Pontiff, the key word is “compassion”, which – he points out – “is not pity, but with-pity”, “suffering with”: “It is an irreplaceable diagnostic instrument. After all, Jesus is the doctor par excellence Isn’t that right? And there are three traits of God that always help us move forward: closeness, compassion and tenderness. I like to think that all health healers – us spiritual health healers, you, of physical and also mental and spiritual health to some extent – we must have these three attitudes: closeness, compassion and tenderness. And this helps a lot, this builds society. I wish you this: that you are close, compassionate and tender”.

Support pillars

The Bishop of Rome remembers the Covid-19 emergency and describes the numerous health professionals as “pillars for the country”: “The memory of the pandemic continues to burn: without the dedication, sacrifice and commitment of health workers, “Many more lives would have been lost.”

Protect the right to health

Three years later, the Italian health system is going through a new phase of criticality that appears to be becoming structural and undermining the exercise of the right to health, which, as Pope Francis points out, “is part of the heritage of the social doctrine of the Church and is enshrined in the Italian Constitution”: “The constant shortage of personnel, leading to unmanageable workloads and the consequent flight from the health professions. The persistent economic crisis affects the quality of life of patients and doctors: how many diagnoses “Early treatments are not carried out? How many people give up treatment? How many doctors and nurses, discouraged and tired, abandon or prefer to go to work abroad?”

Service to people

Health is a common good, but the Pontiff points out that the principles of universality, equity and solidarity, at the basis of Italian public health, today “run the risk of not being applied”: “Please preserve this system, which is a popular system in the sense of service to the people, and do not fall into the idea that is perhaps too efficient – some say modern – of paying only for medicine and then nothing: no, no. This system must be taken care of, it must be made to grow because it is a system of service to the people”.

Furthermore, “those who are called to care for others – adds Francisco – must not neglect the care of themselves: “Interventions are necessary that dignify your work and favor the best conditions so that it is carried out in the most effective way. So many times you are victims, eh?”

Aging country, regain confidence in the future

Next, the Holy Father addresses in particular paediatricians and otorhinolaryngologists: the former are a point of reference for young couples. The thought turns to the country’s demographic decline: “Italy is, unfortunately, an aging country: let us hope that the trend can be reversed, creating favorable conditions for young people to become more confident and rediscover the value and joy of being parents. Maybe I shouldn’t say it, but I will say it: today people prefer to have a puppy than a child. Their task is very limited, but that of veterinarians is increasing, eh? And that is not a good sign.”

To otorhinolaryngologists who treat “organs necessary for our relationships”, the Pontiff points out as a model the gestures and words of Jesus when approaching the deaf and dumb: “in them shines the compassion and tenderness of God for us, especially for those who experience the relationship fatigue.

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