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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 access to nutritious food, clean water, sanitation and proper housing — hardships that ravage their health and exacerbate existing medical conditions.
Many of the world’s poorest families live on no more than a few dollars a day. These parents struggle to put food on the table, so there is no way they can afford medical care for themselves or their sick children. Making matters worse, rural health clinics and outposts tend to be primitive and undersupplied, often lacking the equipment and medicines necessary to provide proper treatment.
Following Christ’s example of reaching out to the sick and poor, the Roman Catholic Church has long prioritized medical ministry, and serves as the largest nongovernment provider of health care services in the world. Keep reading to learn more about the need for medical missions — and the devoted Catholic ministries that are working to save both lives and souls!
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.
The poor are about three times less likely to receive medical care than are wealthier people.
99% of the women who die during pregnancy and childbirth live in developing countries.
Every two minutes, a child dies from malaria.
Almost 30% of the world lacks access to safe water, increasing the prevalence of disease.
The sparsely stocked shelves at a medical clinic in Tanzania. Many medical facilities do not have the medicines and equipment they need to treat their patients.
Underprivileged 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, many impoverished children are at an immediate medical disadvantage. Their mothers often lack access to nutrition and prenatal care during pregnancy, and without proper nutrients, one out of every 10 children 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 more than one-fifth of all children under age 5 suffer from stunted growth. Without clean water and sanitation, villagers 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 often 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 lose their lives each year because they cannot access basic surgeries.
Abraham Haimanot was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus — conditions that are often misunderstood and stigmatized in his home country of Ethiopia. By providing physiotherapy and addressing misconceptions about disabilities, the Brothers of Good Works is helping Abraham to achieve all that God has in store for him!
In the Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Mt. 25:31-46), 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, nuns 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 is striving to empower Catholic medical missions and encourage weary patients with Christ’s love. The sick and poor are accustomed to being overlooked, rejected and stigmatized by society. Supporting medical ministries is the perfect way to provide a tangible reminder of God’s loving care and acceptance.
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!
Cross Catholic Outreach supports medical ministries that serve the sick and poor with the tender compassion of our Lord. Featured here are three trusted partners that are working to bring both physical and spiritual healing to communities that have suffered for far too long.
Your support can help them make a difference!
The Brothers of Good Works upholds Catholic social teachings by showing a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable. This year, the brothers are working to provide:
In Maputo, Mozambique, Association Cross Mozambique (ACM) provides holistic support for two of the region’s most vulnerable demographics: the isolated elderly and children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
ACM is striving to make medical care accessible to those in desperate need by providing:
Based in Chinandega, Nicaragua, Amigos for Christ provides the poor with holistic empowerment — including preventive, restorative and surgical medical care. Cross Catholic Outreach is able to support Amigos for Christ with financial aid, as well as shipments of medical supplies. Between July 2019 and June 2020, we shipped:
Your gift today can help treat existing conditions and fortify the poor against preventable illnesses. Allow the Lord to work through your generosity and strengthen suffering families through tangible acts of mercy!
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.
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 medical care?
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. Government expenditures in the health sector are often low, leaving medical facilities with limited staff and resources. 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 are also poorly stocked, lacking the medicines and medical equipment necessary to provide adequate care.
Why is the maternal mortality rate higher in developing nations?
WHO estimates that 810 women die every day 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 faraway medical facilities. Often, impoverished mothers are already undernourished, so the strain of pregnancy and delivery can exact a particularly heavy toll on their bodies.
Cross Catholic Outreach’s staff prays daily for friends of the ministry. Click below to submit your specific prayer intentions.
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.