Anthony R. Tersigni, EdD, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension, recently traveled to Rome to take part in the XXXII International Conference on Addressing Global Health Inequalities. As President of the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions (CIISAC), he led the conference, joining dignitaries, other influential Catholic health leaders and global business leaders from around the world who are also interested in addressing global health inequality.

CIISAC works with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, a newly created department within the Vatican responsible for issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture.

In alignment with the Vatican’s Dicastery, CIISAC’s mission involves the promotion of health, healing, peace and reconciliation through assistance and care for those who are sick and suffering across the globe, especially those individuals who are most in need. The conference provided a venue for CIISAC and representatives of Catholic institutions to discuss ways to collaborate and begin a more unified approach to health inequalities on a global scale.

In a letter of welcome for the conference, Pope Francis echoed Ascension’s focus on listening to those we serve in order to provide truly personalized, compassionate care. “While a well-structured organization is essential for providing necessary services and the best possible attention to human needs, healthcare workers should also be attuned to the importance of listening, accompanying and supporting the persons for whom they care,” he said. The Pope cited the parable of the Good Samaritan, whose compassion “is much more than mere pity or sorrow; it shows a readiness to become personally involved in the other’s situation. Even if we can never equal God’s own compassion, which fills and renews the heart by its presence, nonetheless we can imitate that compassion by ‘drawing near,’ ‘binding wounds,’ ‘lifting up’ and ‘caring for’ our neighbor.”

“Nothing should be proprietary in terms of what we do in our institutions,” Tony said in a news report about the conference. “We have to be able to share those medical practices, especially if they are able to increase the quality of life of the people we serve.”

Representatives of some of the world’s leading health organizations and companies, including World Health Organization, International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Bishops Commission for Charity and Health, Center for Global Health, and UNITAID, attended the conference.

Featured topics included healthcare inequalities in global epidemiology, changing the paradigm of service to those who are sick to address global inequalities, the impact of pharmaceutical and technological innovation on people in need of treatment, access to primary care and essential medical products, and the effect of bioethics and biolaw on care and treatment. Representing Pope Francis, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, the Vatican, addressed conference participants.

“As the world’s largest Catholic healthcare system, Ascension feels a responsibility and a calling to provide affordable, reliable and safe care for underserved communities, both in the United States and around the globe,” Tony said. “One of our subsidiaries, Ascension Global Mission, is closely aligned with CIISAC’s goal to support international efforts that improve the health and well-being of poor and vulnerable populations in developing countries.”

Ascension Global Mission collaborates with religious communities abroad as well as with U.S. and other international partners to support and strengthen healthcare delivery, enable greater local community leadership in health, and advocate for persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable on key international issues that affect global health and well-being.

“Pope Francis is very concerned about raising the equality of care for all persons throughout the world, even the poor and vulnerable,” Tony told Rome Reports. “So this conference gives us a great opportunity to really explore what Catholic health ministries are doing around the world, sharing best practices and learnings so that we can move together in the future."

Click here to watch a video about the conference and the impact Catholic healthcare strives to have on the global poor.

The conference generated dozens of other international videos and news articles, including:

  • Crux. Conference seeks to help Catholic healthcare institutions cooperate, not compete
  • National Catholic Reporter. Inequality in health care is sign of society’s ‘sickness,’ pope says


Photo: Anthony R. Tersigni, EdD, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension, right, talks with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, the Vatican, during the XXXII International Conference on Addressing Global Health Inequalities.