Pope Francis denounces health care inequality in rich countries

Above, a Vatican press office handout picture shows Pope Francis during a visit to the religious medical organization “Presidio sanitario delle Misericordie” on November 16 near the Vatican. Pope Francis has said that governments had a duty to ensure the common good for all its citizens. (Osservatore Romano / AFP)
Updated 17 November 2017
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Pope Francis denounces health care inequality in rich countries

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis condemned on Thursday inequality in health care, particularly in rich countries, saying governments had a duty to ensure the common good for all its citizens.
“Increasingly sophisticated and costly treatments are available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population,” Francis said in an address to a conference of European members of the World Medical Association.
“This raises questions about the sustainability of health care delivery and about what might be called a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care,” he said.
The tendency was clearly apparent when you compared health care cover between countries and continents, the pope said, adding that it was also visible within more wealthy countries, “where access to health care risks being more dependent on individuals’ economic resources than on their actual need for treatment.”
Francis did not mention any countries. Healthcare is a big issue in the United States, where President Donald Trump has vowed to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, introduced by his predecessor, Barack Obama, which aimed to make it easier for lower-income households to get health insurance.
He said health care legislation needed a “broad vision and a comprehensive view of what most effectively promotes the common good in each concrete situation.”
In speaking of end-of-life issues, Francis re-affirmed the Catholic Church’s long-standing teaching that it is morally acceptable for a patient or a family to suspend or reject “disproportionate measures” to keep a terminally ill person alive.
But he stressed that this was “different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.”
Regarding end-of-life decisions, the pope said governments had a duty “to protect all those involved, defending the fundamental equality whereby everyone is recognized under law as a human being living with others in society.”


Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

Updated 24 May 2018
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Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

TUTICORIN, India: A protester shot during demonstrations against a copper plant in southern India died of his injuries Thursday, officials said, the 13th victim killed by police fire.
A curfew remained in pockets of Tuticorin city in Tamil Nadu state where police used live ammunition to disperse protesters this week, provoking international outrage and demands for an immediate investigation.
Calls for the copper smelting plant owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources to be closed had been building in recent months, with residents complaining it was polluting their city.
The resistance came to a head Tuesday when police stopped a crowd of thousands from protesting outside the factory.
Cars and buildings were set ablaze and rocks hurled at police, who responded with live fire. Eleven demonstrators were shot dead and many people injured in the melee, including 20 police.
Another protester died Wednesday when he was struck by rubber bullets in a second day of protests.
The latest victim died in hospital Thursday, two days after being injured, doctors said.
“He was brought in a critical condition with bullet injuries and died today,” a doctor at the local hospital said.
The chief minister of Tamil Nadu has ordered an inquiry but defended the actions of police, which the state’s opposition leader called “mass murder.”
“The police have a duty during protests to maintain law and order, but lethal force can only be used if there is an imminent threat to life,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
“Tamil Nadu authorities need to carry out a prompt and credible investigation to determine if police used excessive force.”
Internet services have been blocked across the city for five days. Police justified the blackout to stop the spread of information that could incite further violence as they search for those behind Tuesday’s arson attacks.
Environmentalists and locals say the factory contaminates water and air, claims its owners deny.
The company has sought to renew the license of the temporarily non-operational plant and hopes to double its production capacity.
But a state court Wednesday ordered that it cease any further construction at the new site.
The ruling came just hours after Tamil Nadu’s pollution board ordered the existing plant be shut and its power supply cut until a verdict is made on its licensing application.