Holy See Urges U.N. to Focus on Basic Health Care

Sees It as Key to Millennium Goals

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NEW YORK, OCT. 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The United Nations must renew its commitment to the preservation of life at every level and in every corner of the world, the Holy See says.



Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, said this Tuesday at an address before the 62nd U.N. General Assembly, when he evaluated the progress made in achieving the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"As we reach the halfway point in the process of achieving the MDGs," the archbishop asserted, "the time is ripe to take stock of our successes and failures."

He continued: "Still today almost 10 million children below 5 years old die each year mostly from preventable causes; too many mothers die in childbirth from preventable and treatable complications; last year 2.9 million people died of HIV/AIDS-related causes; and half of the developing world lacks even basic sanitation.

"The global community seems to have been losing focus on the need to ensure the right to basic health care for all.

"Focusing on the whole range of basic health care will surely make a substantial contribution toward the achievement of the MDGs and a saner health policy."

Avenues to aid

The 55-year-old Vatican official also noted that the United Nations is increasingly being called upon to respond to multifaceted and complex problems around the world. To answer these challenges, Archbishop Migliore suggested the promotion of partnerships with civil society.

"Member states play an important role in addressing humanitarian crises," he noted. "By giving safe and unhindered access to humanitarian workers, they not only fulfill their responsibility to protect, but also help ensure that those who suffer from a humanitarian tragedy are not re-victimized."

Archbishop Migliore also encouraged an ample role for religious groups in solving conflicts. "During the last few years, this organization has dealt with issues related to culture and religion in an increasing number of resolutions, meetings and side events. This aspect is unfortunately omitted in this report," he said.

The prelate contended that religion is often called upon only when "tensions and conflict emerge."

He suggested that the role of religion should be broader: "Cooperating in programs against incitement to hatred, witnessing for peace and against violence and peacemaking through religion-sponsored agencies are among the many things religious communities and their leaders can do to end conflict and build conditions for peace."

"Finally," concluded Archbishop Migliore, "it is our earnest desire that this 62nd session of the General Assembly be strongly marked by a renewed sense of commitment and action toward not only achieving the Millennium Goals, but also completely fulfilling the vision of hope of this institution."