Guyana health minister says Pope Benedict ‘wrong’
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AFP): World Health Assembly President, Guyana’s Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy, has condemned Pope Benedict’s call for ending condom use in the fights against AIDS, saying he was trying to sow confusion.
"The statement by the Pope is inconsistent with science, it’s inconsistent with our experiences and it is not in sync with what Catholics have experienced and believe," Ramsammy told a news conference.
The Health Minister, who is regarded by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) as a leading advocate in the fight against HIV and AIDS, accused the leader of the Roman Catholic Church of attempting to "create confusion" and "impede" proven strategies in the battle against the disease.
Guyana’s Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy.
Declaring the position by the Pope on condom use as "absolutely and unequivocally wrong," Ramsammy recommended the continued use of condoms as part of an overall strategy that includes education, fidelity and monogamy.
The Health Minister said he planned to rally support among colleague health ministers of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom), which is predominantly Roman Catholic.
"Whilst I would hope that Catholics would continue to be extremely supportive of their church and the pope … on this issue, they (should) rely on the evidence, and we need at this time to come out forcefully with the evidence to demonstrate that condoms and lifestyle matter," said Ramsammy.
Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday on his way to Africa that condoms were not the answer in the continent’s battle against HIV-AIDS, his first such public pronouncement on the delicate issue of condom use.