Health Care for the Poor

Save Lives. Share Christ’s Mercy.

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Poverty and health issues are inextricably — and tragically — linked. In the developing world, many families cannot afford even basic medications, and residents of remote rural villages often struggle to reach distant hospitals and clinics. These challenges can be life-threatening because poor families also lack nutritious food, clean water, sanitation and proper housing. Such deficiencies ravage their health and compound existing medical conditions.

At least half the world does not have access to essential health services.

Many of the world’s poorest families live on no more than a few dollars a day. When parents struggle to put food on the table, there is almost no way that they can afford medical care for themselves or their sick children. Making matters worse, rural health clinics often lack the equipment and medicines necessary to provide proper treatment.

Following Christ’s example of reaching out to the sick and poor, the Catholic Church has long prioritized medical ministry, and it serves as the largest nongovernment provider of health services in the world. Keep reading to learn more about the need for medical missions — and the devoted Catholic ministries working to save both lives and souls!

Quick Facts

Nearly 2 billion people have no access to basic medicines.

Health expenses push nearly 100 million people into extreme poverty every year, forcing them to live on $1.90 or less per day.

More than 40% of all countries have fewer than 10 doctors for every 10,000 people.

About 94% of all maternal deaths occur in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Every two minutes, a child dies from malaria.

One in three people lack access to safe water, increasing the prevalence of disease.

Sources: The World Bank, World Health Organization, United Nations

At St. John’s Health Centre in Funsi, Ghana, Principal Nursing Officer Maria Marwari checks a patient’s blood pressure. Many health facilities in developing nations lack the funding and supplies to meet the overwhelming need in their communities.

The Problem

Poverty Is Making Families Sick

Impoverished families are far more likely to live without access to life’s most basic essentials, and the effect on their physical well-being is often devastating. From the day they are born, the world’s poorest children are at an immediate medical disadvantage. Their mothers often lacked access to nutrition and prenatal care during pregnancy, and without proper nutrients, one out of every seven babies is born underweight.

From there, an onslaught of deficiencies and environmental factors ravage the health of the poor. Without proper nutrition, children’s physical and cognitive development suffers, and in 2020, more than one-fifth of all children displayed stunted growth. Without clean water and sanitation, they also battle repeated bouts of waterborne diseases such as cholera and bacterial diarrhea. Without safe housing, families have little protection against wind and rain, and exposure to the elements weakens their immunity.

Unfortunately, the ill and impoverished have few options for securing medical attention. With extremely limited finances, many families must choose between buying medicine for their sick children and putting food on the table. In addition, families in the most remote communities are often unable to reach medical facilities before it is too late. Preventable illnesses spiral into chronic health problems, expectant mothers give birth in unsanitary conditions, and an estimated 1.5 million people die each year because they cannot access basic surgeries.

A girl has her eyes tested at a clinic operated by the Kobonal Haiti Mission, one of our ministry partners. With your support, we can empower Catholic ministries to provide professional medical care for families in need.

Sharing Our Divine Physician’s Hope Around the World

The Catholic Mission to Heal Bodies and Souls

In Matthew 25, Jesus says, “I was sick and you took care of me … Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Catholics have an incredible opportunity to honor Christ by caring for the sick! With this in mind, priests, sisters and lay missionaries are striving to bridge the gap between impoverished families and the medical healing they so desperately need.

By sending funds and shipping medicines and equipment, Cross Catholic Outreach works to empower Catholic medical missions and encourage weary patients with Christ’s love. The sick and poor are accustomed to being overlooked and stigmatized by society. Supporting medical ministries is the perfect way to give them a tangible reminder of God’s compassion and healing love.

Give the Gift of Healing

Without generous donors, our work simply would not be possible. By trusting Cross Catholic Outreach to steward your gifts, you guarantee that lifesaving medical ministries all over the world will receive the resources and professional consultation they need to make their missions successful. Your support equips medical ministries, empowering them to provide examinations, deliver healthy babies, distribute necessary medicines, provide emergency nutrition, perform critical surgeries — and save souls with Christ’s love!

Restore Health and Hope Today

Your gift can help heal bodies, treat wounds and protect the poor from preventable illnesses. Allow the Lord to work through your generosity and strengthen suffering families through tangible acts of mercy!

Genet Bekele smiles over her newborn baby girl at St. Gabriel Catholic Health Center in Ethiopia. Your support can ensure healthy births, restored strength and many other blessings through medical care.

How We Help the Poor

Change Even More Lives

Giving monthly is a small way to have a big impact. Your regular support empowers our ministry to respond to urgent needs and fulfill our long-term projects across the world.

Become a monthly donor today and experience the joy of impacting lives every month.

How does Cross Catholic Outreach support medical missions?

With help from our generous donors, we are able to equip Catholic medical missions with financial grants, as well as vital shipments of medicines, medical supplies and equipment. Your prayers and donations are critical to this effort, strengthening devoted medical missions in developing nations with the funding and resources they need to provide vital health services for the poor.

How does poverty affect health?

Living in poverty can have a damaging — and even deadly — impact on a person’s physical well-being. Without enough food to eat, the world’s poorest families suffer from the devastating effects of malnutrition, which include stunting and wasting. In addition, lack of clean water and sanitation prevents communities from practicing proper hygiene and protecting their health. Many people battle repeated bouts of waterborne disease, which further saps them of critical nutrients. Developing countries also have a higher incidence of infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Without access to affordable medical care, the poor are often forced to endure their ailments long term, and preventable illnesses spiral into life-threatening conditions.

How does poor health contribute to poverty?

WHO and the World Bank report that household medical expenses push about 100 million people into extreme poverty every year, forcing them to live on less than $1.90 per day. Too many families must choose between necessary medical care and other basic necessities, such as food. Poverty and poor health perpetuate one another in a devastating cycle that keeps people trapped in desperate circumstances. Without assistance, they will remain too poor to afford medical care and too sick to work their way out of poverty.

Why can’t the poor access quality health services?

Many families cannot afford to buy food, let alone medical care. In addition, residents of remote villages may have to walk hours to reach the nearest hospital or health clinic, as there are no medical facilities closer to home. WHO estimates there is a global shortage of 7.2 million doctors, nurses and other health care professionals — a deficit that is expected to increase to 12.3 million by 2035. Many clinics and outposts also lack the medicines and medical equipment necessary to provide adequate care.

Why is the maternal mortality rate higher in developing nations?

Every day in 2017, 810 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Severe bleeding and infection are two of the leading causes of maternal deaths. In many lower-income countries, fewer than half of all births are attended by a medical professional, and without access to quality care, many women risk giving birth at home under unsanitary conditions. Some even give birth on the road as they attempt to walk to distant medical facilities. Often, impoverished mothers are already undernourished, so the strain of pregnancy and delivery can take a heavy toll on their bodies.

Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2022, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.