Pope Francis greets Italian Radiographers Pope Francis greets Italian Radiographers  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope Francis: 'Health is not a luxury'

Addressing a delegation of Italian radiographers, Pope Francis praises the work of healthcare professionals and calls on governments to ensure universal access to decent healthcare.

By Lisa Zengarini

“A world that discards the sick, which does not assist those who cannot afford treatment, is cynical and has no future.”

Pope Francis stressed this point when meeting on Monday with members of the Italian National Federation of Radiographers and of the Technical Medical Rehabilitation and Prevention Professions.

Dedication during Covid-19 pandemic

In his address, the Pope thanked healthcare technologists, along with other healthcare workers, for their “commitment and dedication”.

He noted that without their hard work during the Covid-19 pandemic, many sick people would have not been treated in the past three years.

Culture of care vs. culture of waste

Looking ahead to the World Day of the Sick to be observed on 11 February, Pope Francis said the occurrence offers an opportunity to reflect on the experience of illness, which, he said, “is all the more appropriate today, indeed necessary, because often “the culture of efficiency and waste pushes us to deny it.”

He remarked that the culture of care operates in the opposite way, focusing on the Good Samaritan whose example we should follow.

“The parable (of the Good Samaritan) shows us how a community can be rebuilt by men and women who identify with the vulnerability of others, who reject the creation of a society of exclusion, and act instead as neighbours, lifting up and rehabilitating the fallen for the sake of the common good.”

Pope Francis further highlighted the human dimension of healthcare.

He praised the Italian healthcare technologists for putting the human person in all his dimensions (physical, mental and spiritual) at the centre of their work, not giving in “to sterile efficiency or to a cold application of protocols.”

Human dimension at the centre

“Sick people are people who ask to be treated and to feel cared for, and for this reason it is important to relate to them with humanity and empathy,” he stressed.

He also recalled that healthcare professionals are also people who need “someone to take care of them”, through recognizing their service, protecting suitable working condition, and employing an adequate number of healthcare workers.

Health is not a luxury

The Pope thus reiterated his call for States to find “strategies and resources” in order to guarantee everyone’s fundamental right to basic and decent healthcare, as called for in his Message for the XXXI World Day of the Sick.

“Health," he stressed, "is not a luxury!”

Wrapping up his address, Pope Francis urged Italian healthcare technologists to “always look at ethical values ​​as an indispensable reference” for their professions.

"If well assimilated and combined with scientific knowledge and the necessary skills," he said, "ethical values allow you to accompany the people entrusted to you in the best possible way."

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16 January 2023, 11:44