“The best response to COVID-19 is to guarantee the right to health care” – World

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Aloysius John, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, summarized the results of a conference organized by Caritas Internationalis on the sidelines of the United Nations ECOSOC Partnership Forum 2022

“Access to basic healthcare is a fundamental right that is not respected and must be addressed immediately in a coordinated manner. One of the main problems that the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted is the need to increase investment in health systems, and today millions of people do not have access to basic health care. “.

So said Aloysius John, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalisopening the meeting organized yesterday by Caritas Internationalis on the sidelines of the 2022 United Nations ECOSOC Partnership Forum.

The event, titled “Working Together Successfully, Innovative Health Partnerships to Build Back Better After COVID-19. Experiences from Peru, Lebanon and DRC”**, aiming to show the importance of partnerships between government institutions, the private sector and civil society organizations like Caritas in the response to COVID-19.

During the conference hosted by François X. Rocca, Vatican Correspondent, The Wall Street Journalrepresentatives of Caritas and the governments of Peru, Lebanon and the DRC illustrated best practices for effective synergy between national Caritas, local governments and Church institutions.

“The success factors identified by the three organizations are public trust, the existence of social safety nets, significant health expertise and strong health systems and synergy with different actors to build partnerships and alliances in to rebuild people’s lives better,” added Aloysius John. “The COVID-19 pandemic must be seized as an opportunity to reflect on new forms of creative solidarity to be put in place to build a better future,” he added.

The case of Peru

The **former Prime Minister of the Republic of Peru, Mirtha Vasquez, **confirmed the importance of initiatives inspired by the Church in the fight against COVID-19: “The initiatives of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference have greatly helped individuals and families”.

“In Peru, Caritas worked on four initiatives in response to the pandemic crisis, for a total of 287 social projects that supported 1,286,267 families,” explained Angel Allccarima, Risk and Climate Change Manager, Caritas Peru. “About $7.5 million has been raised to address the COVID-19 emergency and we have been working hand in hand with national institutions, such as the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Armed Forces armed forces, the Ministry of Health and the National Penitentiary Institute”. Forty-nine local Caritas and 1,561 parishes worked hand-in-hand with private companies that provided not only funds but also COVID-19 response tools, such as oxygen equipment.

The case of Lebanon

Ola Sidani, economic expert, Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, also stressed the importance of collaboration between government structures and humanitarian organizations in the response to the pandemic. “Lebanon’s official response to the COVID-19 pandemic is part of an unprecedented multifaceted economic, banking and financial crisis. There was a pressing and urgent need to use the unprepared public sector hospitals as frontline hospitals compared to the private sector hospitals that came later, and therefore a need to raise funds to increase capacity hospital beds, personal safety kits for staff, necessary medical equipment”.

Cindy Hakme, Senior Grants Coordinator, Caritas Lebanon, explained that the Health Department of Caritas Lebanon was working in coordination with the Lebanese Ministry of Health on guidelines and the transmission of messages and, in the 5 Lebanese governorates, on referrals to public hospitals. She also re-emphasized the importance of “building partnerships and alliances and strengthening community systems.”

The case of the Democratic Republic of Congo

John Maurice Salumu Kikuni, Public Health Expert, General Secretariat Technical Support Unit, Ministry of Health, describes the impact of COVID-19 in a country where “there have been 85,379 cases of COVID-19, 1,278 deaths and only 0.2% of the population is fully vaccinated”. He also underscored “the need to work together, through successful and innovative health partnerships, to build back better after COVID-19.”

As explained by Jean Munongo, National Coordinator of the health promotion service of Caritas Congo ASBL,in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Caritas manages more than 40% of health establishments: 125 primary hospitals, 128 secondary hospitals, 1,318 health centers and 50 medical and nursing training establishments., Since 2018, the organization has also partnership agreement with the Congolese Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance.

Summarizing the outcomes of the conference, Rita Rhayem, Health and HIV Advisor, Caritas Internationalis, recalled “the importance of partnerships even in the most difficult economic crises, as the case of Lebanon shows. The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to reflect on the safety of humanity and the most vulnerable people Caritas serves”.

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