Church must play better roles in health care

Church must play better roles in health careThe Church in India has to play greater roles to meet the health care needs of the poor in the changing situations of the country, says Archbishop Bernard Moras, former head of Indian bishops' health care ministry. The prelate said this on his return from the 27th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care held in Rome Nov. 15-20. In his paper presented at the conference on ''Catholic Hospitals in a Challenging World," he said India has witnessed remarkable improvement in the health situation of the people.

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The country has witnessed gradual but steady growth in the personnel, healthcare facilities and the availability of some of the best treatment and healthcare facilities, he said. However, a vast majority of the people, especially the poor in under-served areas, found basic survival itself as a daily struggle and health a distant dream. Many people did not have access to affordable healthcare or even safe drinking water and sanitation, he said.

''The costs of medical care have risen to such prohibitive levels making facilities unavailable to many and leading to medical systems becoming unsustainable. High technology has an inhuman face leading to people feeling isolated and fragmented," he said.

The Church runs some 3,300 health care institutions in India, including large, medium and small hospitals, health centers and diocesan social service societies. The country also enjoys the services of 600 nun-doctors, 25,000 nun-nurses and 10,000 plus Religious para-professionals with roughly 21 million accessing Catholic healthcare facilities annually.

Though Catholics constitute barely 2 % of the country's total population, the Catholic health facilities account for around 20 % of the healthcare provided in India, Archbishop Moras said. The Church also runs 165 leprosy treatment centers, 416 healthcare centers for the aged, 62 centers for tuberculosis treatment and the terminally ill, 67 community care centers for people with HIV/AIDS and 60 counseling centers.

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