Benedict XVI Urges Help for Tuberculosis Sufferers

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2006 ( Benedict XVI appealed for solidarity with tuberculosis sufferers and called for "dignified conditions of life" for these patients.

The Pope's appeal, made at the end of today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, came on the eve of World TB Day, an annual U.N. initiative to combat tuberculosis. World TB Day will be observed on Friday.

According to the Holy Father, the event is "an appropriate occasion to call for renewed commitment -- at the global level -- [so] that the necessary resources may be made available to cure our sick brothers and sisters, who often also live in situations of great poverty."

"I encourage the initiatives of assistance and solidarity toward them, hoping that they may always be guaranteed dignified conditions of life," he said.

On March 16 the World Health Organization launched a new strategy to fight tuberculosis, primarily an illness of the respiratory system, which causes 1.7 million deaths a year.