By Fr. John Waters
Pope Francis has become a signatory to the Joint Declaration on Global Health. The declaration was signed on his behalf ahead of the Reaching the Last Mile Forum, in Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is the other signatory.
The one-day, invitation only event, which convenes in Abu Dhabi on 19th November, brings together world leaders, health care experts, philanthropists and advocacy groups in order to study current medical challenges across the globe. The event also provides the opportunity for participants to network and build contacts with like-minded groups and individuals.
The Joint declaration sets out the right of all people, no matter their background, to live a dignified and healthy life.
For this reason, the document calls for “renewed efforts – including comprehensive political action and willing cooperation between civil society and individual States, which have a responsibility for the health of their own citizens – to promote sanitary, social and educational programmes and to develop adequate medical networks of prevention, diagnosis and treatment, so that no one remains left behind.”
The document goes on to highlight areas of focus which still require attention and greater efforts to address, such as the fight to end Neglected Tropical Diseases. It is estimated that up to 1.5 billion people suffer from such diseases around the world. The declaration calls for more cooperation between parties involved in these efforts.
“Faced with diseases that today can be monitored, prevented and eliminated, there is a need for greater efforts on the parts of all to coordinate available resources in order to achieve adequate solutions. This will also demand an interdisciplinary, socio-medical and environmental approach” the declaration states.
The declaration was signed on the Pope’s behalf by Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Arab Emirates and on Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed’s behalf by Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Undersecretary of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.