25 June 2010


Speaking in the General Debate at the recent Session of the Human Rights Council In Geneva, the Vatican representative Archbishop Tomasi addressed the issue of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

Drawing upon the experience of the Catholic Church as a major provider of health care services in the world (it provides 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 dispensaries and clinics, 521 leprosaria, and 15,448 homes for the aged, the chronically ill, or disabled people - often in some of the most poor, isolated, and marginalized communities), Archbishop Tomasi stated that the right to health was far from being realized.

He drew particular attention to the issue of access to "affordable medicines and diagnostic tools that can be administered and utilized in low-income, low-technology settings" and to the report from the Special Rapporteur "’Diseases of poverty’ still account for 50 per cent of the burden of disease in developing countries, nearly ten times higher than in developed countries; more than 100 million people fall into poverty annually because they have to pay for health care; in developing countries, patients themselves pay for 50 to 90 per cent of essential medicines; nearly 2 billion people lack access to essential medicines."

Of particular concern is that many of those deprived of access to medication are children.

Taking up the theme of a Caritas Internationalis campaign, Archbishop Tomasi pointed out that ”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. This situation can result in the tragic loss of life or continued chronic illness among such needy children. For example, of the 2.1 million children estimated to be living with HIV infection, only 38% 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."

Edmund Rice International is continuing to encourage Edmund Rice Schools around the world to participate in the ongoing Caritas children’s letter-writing campaign on behalf of children infected with HIV/AIDS.


More than 300 faith-based organizations and investors (including Edmund Rice International) responded to the invitation from Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) to sign a letter to major hotel chains to encourage action on human trafficking in advance of the World Cup.

According to CBIS positive responses were received from Accor (Motel6, Sofitel, and Mercure), Carlson (Radisson and Country Inns & Suites), and Intercontinental hotels.

No response was received from Best Western, Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood, and NH Hotels.

Accor has adopted the code of conduct against child sex tourism, developed an ethical policy, and has trained 13,000 employees on the issue. In South Africa, 85 employees have been trained and the company has made its training materials available to other tourism organizations. Accor has more than 20 hotels in South Africa and 4000 hotels worldwide.

Carlson is also very active on human trafficking and is the only major US hotel chain to adopt a tourism code of conduct, create an ethical policy, and train new employees.

More information is available at the Christian Brothers Investment Services website.


Whilst significant progress has been made to end extreme poverty, it is estimated that 1.4 billion people still live on less than US$1.25 per day.

Income is just one measure of poverty.

According to a 2008 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report ‘more than 1 billion people lack access to roads, 1.2 billion do not have safe drinking water, 2.3 billion have no reliable sources of energy, 2.4 billion lack sanitation facilities and 4 billion are without modern communication services’

Yet whilst millions of people around the world go hungry, the world currently produces more than enough food to feed its population. That situation may change due to the effects of climate change and the continuation of unsustainable agricultural methods and as the population increases, but nevertheless hunger, one of the most obvious symptoms of poverty, is often less the result of a lack of food than a distance from food. When people live far away from food sources, food security depends on infrastructure that ensures food can be transported in an efficient and cost effective way.

The reasons for the continued existence of global poverty are well understood as are the actions required to end it.

The Global Poverty Project seeks to invigorate the global movement to take effective concerted action on poverty. Resources on its website clearly articulate the facts of extreme poverty and demonstrate that by making simple changes everyone can be a part of the solution.


World Leaders will gather at the United Nations in New York for the Millennium Development Goals Review Summit in September.

The Millennium Development Goals provide a unique opportunity to end global poverty and inequality by 2015 with the setting of achievable, time-bound and locally defined targets.

Edmund Rice International will be encouraging members of the Edmund Rice Network and Edmund Rice Schools around the globe to join in solidarity with each other, with millions of others and with the world's poor by participating in the Stand-Up Against Poverty Campaign action planned for Sep 17th-19th.

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