Doctor Ramón Tallaj, SOMOS Community Care, Papa FRancisco

The Vocation of the Primary Care Physician

Address by Dr. Ramón Tallaj, President of the non-profit association SOMOS Community Care, at the unveiling of the global campaign “Thank You, Doctor!” held on the 16th of November, in Vatican City.

I am a doctor by vocation and mission, and I am delighted that we are presenting this Global Declaration and doing so here, in the Vatican, and with the blessing and encouragement of the Holy Father. Pope Francis has spoken on more than one occasion about the indispensable work of the primary care physician.

It is therefore an honor for me to chair SOMOS Community Care and to be able to promote this exciting, visionary and necessary campaign together with the Pontifical Academy for Life.

This appeal comes at a time of uncertainty, when we are all called upon to face crises with dramatic manifestations: health, economic, migration, ecological, or war?

This Declaration recognizes the role played every day, on five continents, by millions of physicians, who not only form the front line of our health care systems, but sometimes go far beyond, becoming each person’s “good Samaritans.” This idea illustrated by Monsignor Paglia is fundamental: the doctor assists and the doctor accompanies the most vulnerable.

Pope Francis lamented that “the figure of the family doctor has almost disappeared,” with the risk that “the good quality of territorial health services is neglected; or that they become so bureaucratized and computerized that elderly or poorly trained people find themselves excluded or marginalized.”

Physicians help to base the health care system on prevention. When the doctor-patient relationship fails or breaks down, the health care system is doomed to intervene only when the patient’s situation has already degenerated, with very high human and social costs.

In addition, the physician coordinates. When it is necessary to refer a patient to a specialist or order additional tests, the primary care physician plays a coordinating role, ensuring that all parties involved in the patient’s care are informed and work in a synchronized manner.

The world without physicians would be dehumanized. Doctors transcend ideologies and divisions because they care for the human person and defend his or her dignity.

The intent of this campaign is to get as many people as possible to sign this declaration, both individuals and groups, foundations, hospitals, associations, communities of all kinds and even of all religions.

Our intention is to be able to take it to the politicians who govern us, so that they realize the importance of rediscovering the figure of the physician.

I pledge to personally go wherever I can to make this campaign known, recognized and chosen in order to influence public policy. I will travel as many miles as necessary to be a spokesperson for the thousands of family physicians who are literally saving our humanity. These are not easy times, but our hope is to continue to encourage and believe in good. Thank you for your journalistic interest in this campaign, which we will take to every corner of the world to make this world a better place.