Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Boosting ties and cooperation among the continent's medical practitioners whilst promoting Christian ethics and values in the health care sector are the guidelines agreed upon at the 15th Conference of the Asian Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (AFCMA) held on 18-21 in Denpasar, Bali. Some 400 participants from various Asian nations as well as Europe took part in the event. They include Mgr Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Mgr Martinus Situmorang, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI), and Mgr Antonio Guido Filippazzi, apostolic nuncio, as well as other Church leaders.
Discussions focused on how doctors can and must implement Christian values and ethics in their profession, especially in relation to practices like abortion where it is allowed by national law and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
For Lukas Jusuf, deputy chairman of the conference's organising committee and head of the Catholic Doctors Association for the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the three-day meeting provided an opportunity to consolidate ties among Asian doctors. Cooperation among doctors is an important element, he noted, starting in Jakarta where some 200 Catholic medical practitioners operate.
In the Indonesian capital, the Church has set up clinics in some of the larger parishes, where free medical is offered to patients who cannot afford expensive treatments. In many cases, clinics open at the end of the main religious services, like Sunday Masses.
In order to meet needs, "good" doctors who can give some of their time and resources to the needy are required, said the head of the Catholic Doctors Association, a view shared by the other participants, including Dr Hasan Harris Mutiara, who also works in the capital. For him, "serving others is part of our Christian faith."
At the end of the conference, participants agreed to a three-part plan to guide Catholic doctors in their profession. They are a strong commitment to defend human life from conception to natural death; full compliance with Church doctrine and adherence to Catholic values and morality, especially in the area of medical experimentation; and special care for the more vulnerable.