Vatican Sec of State warns against increasing antimicrobial resistance at UN

(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, called for ‘the enhancement of infection prevention and control, including good sanitation and hygiene both in health care settings and in communities’ in response to the danger of antimicrobial resistance.

His comments came in an address to a high-level meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance at the UN headquarters in New York during the General Assembly.

Cardinal Parolin warned against the potential causes of an increasing resistance to antibiotics and current medical methods.

‘These causes include inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines in human, animal, food, agriculture and aquaculture sectors; lack of access to health care services, including diagnostics and laboratory tests; and the contamination of soil, water and crops with antimicrobial residues.’

He concluded his address by reminding world leaders of the need to leave no one behind in regard to universal health care access.

‘On behalf of these hundreds of millions of people who have no access to health care and are most susceptible to diseases related to antimicrobial resistance, the Holy See appeals to the International Community to take their concerns and basic needs into greater consideration, without viewing them as burdens supported merely out of duty, or as problems raised as an afterthought. Leaving no one behind means giving greater attention to these persons who are left farthest behind.’

Cardinal Parolin’s full address is below:

21 September 2016

Mr. President,

The Holy See shares the deep concern repeatedly expressed by the United Nations General Assembly and by the governing bodies of the relevant Specialized Agencies with regard to the prevalence and impact of antimicrobial resistance in all parts of the world. With tens of thousands of health care centers and institutions of higher medical education in many parts of the world, the Catholic Church is deeply and extensively engaged in health care and in preventive health education. Thus the Holy See is keenly aware of the catastrophic situation that could develop if effective measures to control this global health threat are not adequately taken by the international community, and thus calls for the enhancement of infection prevention and control, including good sanitation and hygiene both in health care settings and in communities. Experts have pointed to the interrelated causes of this complex public health challenge. These causes include inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines in human, animal, food, agriculture and aquaculture sectors; lack of access to health care services, including diagnostics and laboratory tests; and the contamination of soil, water and crops with antimicrobial residues. In this regard, Pope Francis has warned that “the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly.” [1] The Political Declaration rightfully points out that antimicrobial resistance makes it more difficult to safeguard the health and well-being of people most vulnerable to life-threatening infections, especially women giving birth, newborns, patients with certain chronic diseases, and those undergoing chemotherapy or surgery. Insufficient attention seems to be paid, however, to those who are socially and economically deprived, including the poor, marginalized and minority populations, refugees, migrants, and those internally displaced. Their lack of access to quality health care drives them to buy medicines on informal markets, where they are vulnerable to being sold false or counterfeit products.

Mr President,

My Delegation earnestly hopes that public health measures, medical research and diagnostic development will provide accessible and equitable solutions leading to, as Pope Francis has emphasized, “a genuine service… to care for our common home and the integral development of persons, especially those in greatest need”. [2] On behalf of these hundreds of millions of people who have no access to health care and are most susceptible to diseases related to antimicrobial resistance, the Holy See appeals to the International Community to take their concerns and basic needs into greater consideration, without viewing them as burdens supported merely out of duty, or as problems raised as an afterthought. [3] Leaving no one behind means giving greater attention to these persons who are left farthest behind.

Thank you, Mr. President.

[1] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 34.

[2] Pope Francis, Address during Visit to the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Kenya, 26

November 2015.

[3] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 49.

(from Vatican Radio)

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