(Vatican Radio) The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Archbishop
Zygmunt Zimowski, has addressed the 67th World Health Assembly, which is
meeting in Geneva 19-24 May.
In his remarks, Archbishop Zimowski spoke about “the devastating impact of climate change” reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat. “There is overwhelming evidence that human activities have greatly contributed to recent warming of the earth’s surface, and that climate change as well as its consequences will continue into the future.” Citing both Pope, he called for policies that “are respectful of the earth as our common home.”
Archbishop Zimowski also noted the call of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to be attentive to ecological problems, saying, “we must look beyond the purely scientific, medical, and economic issues related to climate change and come face to face with the persons whom it most affects.” He called for “for greater solidarity to prevent or, at least, mitigate the impact of climate change on our more vulnerable brothers and sisters throughout the world.”
Confronting other health issues treated by the WHO Secretariat, Archbishop Zimowski commended the work being done to help people who are dealing with autism. “It is the sincere hope of my delegation, that the implementation of these guidelines at the national levels, with the continued policy guidance and support from WHO, will help to alleviate the plight of many families, who often have to shoulder alone the emotional and economic burden arising from the demanding responsibility of caring for the children with these disorders.” Archbishop Zimowski noted Holy See’s contribution to these efforts, pointing to the upcoming International Conference “The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Stir Hope,” sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, which will take place at the Vatican in November.
Finally, Archbishop Zimowski thanked the Secretariat for its comprehensive report on maternal, infant and young child nutrition. He voiced his conviction “that organizations with strong links in local communities should be integrated as key partners in the implementation of this global strategy.” He also praised the report for its emphasis on breastfeeding, saying, “Breastfeeding is a major protection against early child malnutrition and should therefore be protected, promoted as part of primary healthcare. It should be guaranteed by laws governing workplace practice and there should be acceptance for breastfeeding even in public.” He pointed to the example of Pope Francis, who at a Baptism ceremony in the Sistine Chapel in January encouraged mothers “ to overcome hesitation of breastfeeding their children when they are hungry.”
Archbishop Zimowski concluded his address with the hope that “the work of this Assembly will help to reaffirm the centrality of the human person in all our efforts for health promotion.”