Health care is a right, not a privilege, pope says

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From Catholic News Services:

by Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church is not a fancy medical clinic for the rich, but a “field hospital” that — often literally — provides the only medical care some people will ever receive, Pope Francis said.

“Health is not a consumer good but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege,” the pope said May 7 during a meeting with members, volunteers and supporters of Doctors With Africa, a medical mission begun by the Diocese of Padua, Italy, 65 years ago.

In many parts of the world, especially in Africa, the pope said, basic health care “is denied — denied!” — to too many people. “It is not a right for all, but rather still a privilege for a few, for those who can afford it.”

“Access to health serves, to treatment and to pharmaceuticals is still a mirage,” Pope Francis told the group, which includes dozens of young doctors who volunteer their services in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Angola, South Sudan and Sierra Leone.

Offering medical care in sub-Saharan Africa and training Africans to take over the clinics when they are able is an important expression of “a church that is not a super-clinic for VIPs, but a field hospital,” the pope said.

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