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Pope Francis Rallies Global Effort for Family Doctors’ Recognition

Pope Francis Global Effort for Family Doctors’ Recognition
SOMOS Community Care's Dr. Ramon Tallaj and Pope Francis / Photo Courtesy: SOMOS Community Care

By: Sandra Lumin

On May 25, the Bishop of Rome will welcome more than 300 doctors, promoters of the “Thank You, Doctor!” campaign, which has already garnered the support of over one million people. The campaign aims to rediscover and emphasize the role of the primary care physician in health systems and society.

Pope Francis will receive the promoters of the “Thank You, Doctor!” campaign this Saturday, May 25, 2024. This global initiative seeks to highlight the humanizing role of primary care physicians, also known as family doctors, within the health system and society.

Launched on November 16, 2023, at the Vatican, the campaign has garnered support from several leading medical associations and civil society institutions, and it has already been endorsed by over one million people.

The campaign was initiated by SOMOS Community Care, a non-profit medical association in New York, with the Pontifical Academy for Life, an institution of the Holy See that brings together scholars based on their academic expertise and professional excellence, without discrimination based on geographic or religious origin.

The World Council for Health, the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, the European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO), the Italian College of Physicians, the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC), and the Journal of Research & Applied Medicine have already joined the campaign.

These institutions have signed the declaration “Rediscover the Family Doctor,”  in which they launch “an appeal to all social and political stakeholders to join forces and restore the doctor-patient relationship to the center of our healthcare systems.” 

“Good Samaritans”

The declaration “recognizes the daily role that millions of doctors play, across all five continents, not only in serving as the front line of our healthcare systems, but also when they go above and beyond, transforming themselves into the good Samaritans for every person.”

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, applauded this reference to physicians as good Samaritans: “It is certainly a title that honors them, but above all it makes them responsible to humanity in need of care.”

“It is truly indispensable to rediscover the relationship between doctor and patient as the heart of medicine. Medicine cannot be reduced to prescriptions or technologies, even if they are very sophisticated, because men and women can never be considered solely for their illness,” the archbishop said.

A Concern of Pope Francis

Pope Francis has spoken on several occasions about the decline of the family doctor role, stating that “unfortunately, for various reasons, the figure of the family doctor has almost disappeared, and the risk is that, in order to privilege ‘excellence’, the good quality of territorial health services is neglected; or that these are so bureaucratized and computerized that the elderly or poorly educated find themselves effectively excluded or marginalized” (14 November 2022).

The Problem of The Healthcare System

Pope Francis Global Effort for Family Doctors’ Recognition
Photo Courtesy: SOMOS Community Care

Dr. Ramón Tallaj, president of SOMOS Community Care, explained that “the family physician contributes to the foundation of the healthcare system on prevention. When the doctor-patient relationship is lost or breaks down, the healthcare system is condemned to intervene only when the patient’s situation has already degenerated, with very high human and social costs.”

“The ‘Thank You, Doctor!’ campaign is of utmost importance in light of the extraordinary technological advances and innovation in medicine and pharmacology. Despite all their advantages, these advances risk marginalizing the fundamental and essential role that the primary care physician must occupy,” explained Dr. Tallaj.

“It is tragic that in the end, we chose to create a system where patients are assigned to a medical complex, an anonymous building, without a preexisting doctor-patient relationship, and where the patient distrusts the role of the doctor,” acknowledges Dr. Tallaj. “This has led us to disregard the role of the family physician and replace it with a building, which is called a hospital.”

“The world without doctors would be dehumanized,” acknowledges Dr. Tallaj. “Doctors overcome ideologies and divisions because they care for the human person and defend his or her dignity.”

The audience with the Pope will be attended by more than three hundred primary care physicians from various continents, who have gathered in Rome, where they will participate in various moments of encounter to share experiences.



Published by: Khy Talara

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