Prelate Laments Fake Medicine in Africa

Bishops Urged to Study Traditional Healing Practices

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry is urging the bishops in Africa to take public stances against anti-life practices.



Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski affirmed this Tuesday morning at the 13th General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

According to an English summary released by the Vatican, the prelate acknowledged that "life today is severely tested as a value by reproductive health policies."

Thus, he urged the bishops to "let the Church's voice be heard on the subject of life from its start to its natural conclusion."

The archbishop noted the joint effort of many Churches in Africa to face "a number of great health issues such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis."

He affirmed that the Church's health institutions are committed to promoting "justice and fairness in access to health treatment especially for HIV/AIDS patients."

Archbishop Zimowski invited the Church in Africa to "rediscover its own rich spiritual, doctrinal and sacramental inheritance in spiritual healing which is based on prayer and the sacraments."

He continued: "Traditional medicine is an important patrimony of the African cultures. It has lower costs than modern medicine and being close to the people it is often used.

"The bishops should be asked to distinguish between good and bad practices and to encourage scientific study of traditional medicine within Catholic institutions."

The prelate lamented the fact that even the Catholic health services in Africa "suffer the ideological pressures of globalization and secularization with the evident drop in financial aid that places them at risk of failure."

He concluded by quoting Benedict XVI, offering a vision for Catholic health care in Africa: "The health of the human being, of the whole human being, was the sign chosen by Christ to manifest God's closeness, his merciful love, which heals the mind, the soul and the body."

"This always has to be the fundamental reference for every initiative of the Church," the bishop affirmed.

Condoms

Bishop Joseph Shipandeni Shikongo, another of the 27 people who offered an intervention in Tuesday morning's session, also spoke to the Synod about health needs in Africa.

The bishop, apostolic vicar of Rundu, Namibia, reported that the Church in his country has "an extensive HIV/AIDS program."

He noted, however, that it sometimes conflicts with the government programs, which propagate "secular and relativistic views of sexuality."

The prelate explained: "For them the most predominant concern is to prevent infection; and the most important practical means is the condom; so unrealistic belief in condom effectiveness is promoted.

"The failures of this means is deliberately ignored or explained in dubious ways. In this way, promiscuity is actually encouraged which leads to more infections."

Bishop Shikongo also expressed concern about certain medicine being sold in Africa "for experiment," its effectiveness unproven.

"The dosage of some is dangerous or not what is actually indicated on the container or they are completely faked," he said.

The prelate continued: "There are other medicines that are not approved in countries where they are manufactured but they are sold in Africa.

"It is said that Africa is most exposed to these kinds of medicines because of the limited capacity to investigate, test or monitor as to what is happening."

He appealed to Church leaders to request that the government hold "traditional healers" accountable for their activities, and require them to "fully disclose their treatment procedures and medicines."

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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-27194?l=english