Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, addressed the World Health Assembly, being held from May 14 to 23.
Archbishop Tomasi first expressed his appreciation that Margaret Chan, new director general of WHO, listed women and Africa among her priority concerns.
He said: "The Catholic Church has traditionally been in the first line in the promotion of the authentic health of women, by helping them to harmonize their physical, psychological and social well-being with moral and spiritual values. In this line, the Catholic Church is also convinced of the God-given, equal and complementary dignity of women and men.
"The Catholic Church also prioritizes the most fruitful expression of complementarity between woman and man -- that is, the family which is founded upon lifelong and mutually faithful marriage and which continues to serve as the mainstay of human society."
The 66-year-old archbishop expressed his hope that implementation of resolutions "will never be utilized to 'justify' doing harm to or destroying human life during one of its most vulnerable stages -- when still within the mother's womb."
"Furthermore," he said, "the Holy See wishes to invite the WHO member states once again to understand the term 'gender' as grounded in biological sexual identity, male or female."
Archbishop Tomasi affirmed that the Holy See shares the concerns expressed in the WHO report on "Better Medicines for Children," regarding the "tragic loss" of life each year for some 10.5 million children less that five years old.
"Many of these children die of diseases that are treatable in adults but for which appropriate dosages and formulations have not yet been developed for pediatric use," he lamented. "The international community can no longer turn a deaf ear to the life-threatening needs of children, many of whom can be counted among our most needy citizens but who represent, as well, the future of the human community."
He encouraged, however, that the United Nations base health initiatives on sound anthropology.
He said: "In all the deliberations during this assembly and in the subsequent implementation of World Health Assembly resolutions at national and local levels, my delegation urges a perspective on health security that is grounded on an anthropology respectful of the human person in his or her integrity and looks far beyond the absence of disease to the full harmony and sound balance of the physical, emotional, spiritual and social forces within the human person."