Holy See calls for child-friendly medicines


The Holy See has stressed the need to make health care accessible to all, especially, children, who are often neglected by medical services. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the UN offices in Geneva, made this appeal at the 14th regular session of the Human Rights Council.

"With regard to the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, my delegation wishes to raise additional concerns regarding the need for effective action in order to guarantee universal access to medicines and diagnostic tools for all persons," he said.

The archbishop urged the council "to renew its commitment as a key stakeholder in efforts to assert and safeguard the right to health by guaranteeing equitable access to essential medicines."

"The right to health is universally recognized as a fundamental right, yet one group particularly deprived of access to medicines is that of children," the prelate said.

"Many essential medicines have not been developed in appropriate formulations or dosages specific to pediatric use. Thus families and health care workers often are forced to engage in a guessing game on how best to divide adult-size pills for use with children," he explained.

The archbishop warned that: "this situation can result in the tragic loss of life or continued chronic illness among such needy children."

"For example" he reported, "of the 2.1 million children estimated to be living with HIV infection, only 38 percent were received life-saving anti-retroviral medications at the end of 2008."

"This treatment gap is partially due to the lack of child friendly medications to treat the HIV infection," Archbishop Tomasi added.

"With information coming from these on-the-ground realities in some of the most poor, isolated, and marginalized communities," the prelate noted, the Holy See delegation is emphasizing the fact that these rights to health care are "far from being realized."

He underlined the Catholic Church's global contribution to health care "through local churches, religious institutions and private initiatives, which act on their own responsibility and in the respect of the law of each country including the promotion of 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 dispensaries and clinics, 521 leprosaria, and 15,448 homes for the aged, the chronically ill, or disabled people."