Vatican City (Fides Service) – The dossier prepared by Fides wishes to offer readers a picture of the health situation in mission countries where conditions are difficult or tragic.
It is precisely in mission territories that the Church works often silently to bring a note of hope to a sea of desperation and suffering. Where ever there is a Catholic mission there is health care often the only assistance available for thousands of miles. Countless dispensaries, medical centres and hospitals have been opened by missionaries and volunteers animated with a spirit of the Gospel.
Health is one a parameter to gauge the grade of civilisation of a region. The number of doctors per person, the number of hospitals present on the territory, impact of infective diseases on the local population…are parameters used by geographers and economists to judge what a country is able to offer its citizens in terms of social progress and quality of life.
We are aware that behind the figures are the lives of many, too many human beings denied the right to health; a fundamental right recognised by the constitutions of many countries and by various international conventions on human rights, but which has yet to be recognised in many countries. As Pope John Paul II said on 9 November 1990: “New frontiers opened by progress in science and technology, the so-called socialisation of medicine, and growing interdependence among peoples place questions of health-care and health at the centre of commitment for human rights, and among these, there is no doubt, fundamental rights regarding respect for life from conception to natural end. ” (L.M.) (Fides Service 2/1/2003 lines 29 words 350)