Francis delivered a message to participants of the Vatican conference on the Declaration of Helsinki, organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life. “The central role that the sick person should have played has not yet been realized. It must be constantly protected and promoted in the new circumstances in which medicine finds itself.”
Antonella Palermo – Vatican City
“We cannot subject care to the inferior mindset of the market and technology.” Pope Francis has this to say in his message addressed to participants in the international conference: “Declaration of Helsinki: Research in the context of limited resources” which closed today in the Hall of the Ancient Synod of the Vatican, organized by the Medical Association. World, in collaboration with the American Medical Association and the Pontifical Academy for Life.
From research on patients to research on patients
Recalling how the Declaration, born in 1964, highlights the fundamental issue of freedom and informed consent in clinical research and provides an essential contribution in making possible the transition “from research on patients to research with patients” The Pope focused on a situation that is worrying him:
The asymmetry that exists in the current therapeutic relationship is very clear, the central role that the patient should have has not yet become a reality. It must be constantly protected and promoted in the new circumstances in which medicine finds itself, which are rapidly advancing and include new technological and pharmaceutical resources, economic interests and commercial alliances, and the cultural context in which others seek means for themselves. It is easy to make. Objective.
Avoid disparities in health care
Francis focuses on low-income countries, which are the most vulnerable. This underlines the need to guarantee security in societies most at risk. And, citing the message of the 2024 World Peace Day, he points out that “Internationally, we are seeing many injustices that push poor countries into disadvantaged positions in terms of access to and use of available resources, causing them “Lag behind.” At the mercy of their own forces, the richest countries and industrial entities – he points out – seem insensitive to those who cannot assert themselves, even when fundamental needs and rights are at stake. The Pontiff also gives the example of the role of Artificial Intelligence and says:
‘It is very important to avoid inequalities in health care and in clinical care and also in clinical research. We cannot subordinate caring, the essential attitude that allows for the progress of human life through one person’s devotion to another, to the cheap mentality of the market and technology.
Respect people’s cultural sensitivities brotherly
The Pope called for concrete solutions to strike a balance between the potential of research and the well-being of patients, so that the costs of research and access to the benefits derived from it are equitably distributed. In light of the experience of the pandemic, the Pontiff explains that “we must promote in the international community a way of thinking in the perspective of social friendship and fraternity that is truly at the service of the human family.”
(…) Respecting the independence of the different communities involved also means appreciating their different cultural sensitivities, which should not be damaged by models of knowledge and social practices that they do not consider their own. Thus, we are facing challenges that raise questions about global justice in health care.
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