(Posted July 2013)
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Today is the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO), and a timely opportunity to reflect on how we as Catholic health ministry share in its vision of a world where health is a fundamental human right.
In a recent speech, titled “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Misery, and Disease,” Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, explained that the WHO was established in 1948 as a specialized agency of the United Nations with a mission that speaks to a strong sense of social purpose and a constitution containing a series of health-related principles regarding the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental human right—that the common pursuit of better health could build societies that are more equal, more just and more secure.
This purpose is in line with the mission of the Church and its health ministry. Pope Benedict, in 2006, encourage(d) the "leaders of nations and all people of good will," to "commit themselves with ever greater determination to building a free, brotherly and supportive world, where attention to people takes precedence over mere economic aspects." He explained that it is "our duty to accept responsibility for one another and for the functioning of the world as a whole, so that it cannot be said, as Cain did in answer to God's question in the Book of the Genesis: "Am I my brother's keeper?."
And so, let us pray …
Loving God, we ask for your care and protection of those who work to alleviate the suffering of our global brothers and sisters. By vocations and volunteers, the service of your people is accomplished through the work of each of these individuals. Bless their work so that it can affect real change in global health care. Bless the organizations that continuously work to increase community health, shape global policy and aid in the distribution of health resources. Help each one of us to see our role in shaping global health care outcomes, be it through volunteering, providing financial assistance, giving money, raising awareness or prayer. Help us and all those who work to break the global cycles of poverty, misery and disease to be true servants to those in need.