World Day of the Sick: Care for the whole person


For the past year, the world has been living under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of us in developed countries, the disease has affected our lives (if not by losing loved ones, then as a result of lockdown restrictions), while for huge numbers of people in developing countries, COVID-19 has added to an existing landscape of disease and malnutrition. Therefore, as we approach the anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic in the UK, the World Day of the Sick on 11 February is a timely reminder to acknowledge all those affected by the physical and mental burdens of illness.

The World Day of the Sick is an observance of the Catholic Church introduced to recognise those who suffer from illnesses and those who care for them. The Day recognises the need to care for the whole person in both the physical and spiritual/existential aspects of sickness, and its observance is not confined to Catholics, or even those of faith, but rather is incumbent upon all people.[1] The need to demonstrate compassion for those affected by illness concerns all people and is an attribute that is so important in healthcare.

On the inception of the Day, Pope John Paul II appealed to scientists, health authorities and healthcare workers, encouraging them to continue keeping humanitarian values at the forefront of their work while avoiding bureaucracy and detachment [1].

At Porterhouse, we work with pharmaceutical clients, healthcare professionals and thought leaders around the world who are united in preventing and easing the burden of disease and improving the patient journey. We are immensely grateful to healthcare workers and for the amazing jobs they do, which are both physically and mentally demanding, and for the brilliance and dedication of many thousands of people working in the industry we love. We are also optimistic about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, which are undoubtedly promising in the battle against the disease and bring hope to many during these difficult times.

This year, more than any other, we are only too aware of how our actions affect those around us and that everyone has their part to play, no matter how big or small. For those of all faiths or none, the values expressed in the World Day of the Sick offer an opportunity to recognise and care for those who are suffering, demonstrate compassion and bring us all closer together.

1. Vatican. World Day of the Sick. Available at: Accessed February 2021.

Author: Jerusha Richardson. Medical Writer, Porterhouse Medical