Healing and transforming the health system to ensure a unified standard of care is one of the premises raised by the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life when he participated in today’s international congress “Somos Community Care” taking place in Madrid.
The slogans of a health system focused on the good of citizens and patients should be: solidarity, the right balance between health education aimed at prevention, territorial medicine and hospital centers, continuity and integration of care.
This was reiterated by Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in his opening speech on the second day of the International Congress of the Medical Organization “Somos Community Care”, this October 6, in Madrid. Monsignor Palia knows the reality of “Somos Community Care”, which he visited in Brooklyn, New York, in March of this year.
Access to health for all
Monsignor Palia addressed the topic “Equality in health and well-being. Treating and transforming the system to offer a single standard of care’. The Covid-19 pandemic, Monsignor Palia explained, has presented us with complex issues related to the doctor-patient relationship, equity in access to care, the cost-benefit relationship, and the distribution of economic resources in health care.
Enumerating the various concrete elements of a vision of medicine and care on a human scale, Monsignor Palia pointed out that “in the context of the doctor-patient relationship, the general practitioner will be able to sensibly reduce the waste of medicines and services and help the patient to make those management options of lifestyle and health which are as preventive as possible against disease and which make him assume his responsibilities in caring for his own health and that of others.”
Balanced use of resources
As for the fair and balanced use of resources, “in terms of the logic of costs and benefits, a condition must first be established, Monsignor Palia explained. He added that if we put economic risk on one side of the balance and human life on the other, any economic cost can be justified. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the transcendent value of the human personality even in the economic sphere.
“It is true that the resources of a country are not infinite, but this fact implies that within the sphere of affordability, options must be prioritized, starting with the primacy of man, to which economic values must be subordinated.” Before saying that there are no funds, one must also carefully check how they are used,” the Vatican prelate emphasized
Risks and benefits in medical ethics
Regarding the relationship between the risks and benefits of treatment, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life stated that it is necessary to take into account “the criterion of diagnostic-therapeutic and ethical proportionality, which refers rather to the relationship between the characteristics of the treatments (including cost, availability, difficulty of application…) and diagnostic-therapeutic efficacy on health and life, taking into account the costs and suffering that a medical maneuver entails for the patient”.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Monsignor Palia pointed out that “care in hospitals, however, diverted attention from other care institutions. Nursing homes, for example, have been hit hard by the pandemic and personal protective equipment, and evidence has only become available in sufficient quantities at a late stage.” Furthermore, “in most countries, the role of general practitioners has been neglected, while for many they are the first point of contact with the care system.”
The experience with Covid-19
The “vulnerability” of people, health and economic systems, indeed “common vulnerability” requires “international cooperation and coordination, knowing that it is not possible to face a pandemic without an adequate health infrastructure available to everyone in the world”. The spread of the Covid-19 vaccine is an example of this.
“The only acceptable goal compatible with equitable vaccine supply is access for all, without exception. And the motivation for this universal availability cannot be (only) self-interest in protecting against variants of the virus. What is needed, therefore, is an alliance between science and humanism, which must be integrated and not separated or, even worse, opposed,” Monsignor Palia added.
The antibodies of solidarity
An emergency situation like Covid-19 is overcome above all with the antibodies of solidarity, the prelate assured. Technical and clinical means of containment must be integrated into a broad and deep search for the common good, which must counteract the tendency to select advantages for the privileged and segregate the vulnerable based on citizenship, income, politics, age.
Don’t leave the patient: palliative care
In any case, “we must never abandon the sick person, even when there are no more treatments available: palliative care, pain management and support are a requirement that must never be neglected.” Also in matters of public health, the experience we are living through and which we hope has been left behind, at least in its most dramatic aspects, requires serious review. It is about the balance between the preventive and the therapeutic approach, between the medicine of the individual and the collective dimension (given the close connection between personal health and rights and public health)”.
“The brotherhood indicated by the Gospel can be multiplied by many other passages and direct messages from Jesus. But it’s time to take it a step further: we are interconnected; the world is interconnected, and the sooner we understand it, the sooner we will be a true global community united under the sign of brotherhood. Barriers do not exist; we put them in place and they are doomed to be woefully ineffective and even meaningless in the face of global emergencies,” Monsignor Palia concluded.
Patient Care Community
“WE ARE Public Care” is a network of more than 2,500 physicians practicing in New York City, particularly in the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. It is one of the institutions selected by New York State to launch the initiative Medicaid, US government health insurance to help low-income people pay for health care. It serves more than 650,000 patients from underserved communities, including many Asian and Hispanic immigrants.
“SOMOS Community Care” consists solely of doctors, all of them integrated into the community in which they practice their profession and provide their services in the language of their patients. Other characteristics of the care provided are attention to the social needs of the target group and special attention to direct communication between doctor and patient.
(Source: Pontifical Academy for Life)