Norms concerning healthcare services in Vatican City date back to the “Regulations on Healthcare and Welfare Services of the Sacred Apostolic Palaces” approved on 10 October 1893 by Pope Leo XIII. A decision of 28 September 1929 of the Governor of State confirmed the previous regulations and transferred jurisdiction from the Prefect of the Sacred Apostolic Palaces to the Governor of State himself. The first references to a permanent first aid station with a medical-surgical ward next to the Vatican Pharmacy date back to this decision. In the Regulations for Offices and Services of the Governorate (Vatican City’s central administration) of 5 December 1932, the Health Services consisted of one of seven departments under the Central Office of the Governorate Secretariat. In 1943, during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, the Health Services gained administrative autonomy within the Governorate. Finally, a decree of 1969 officially established the Department of Health and Welfare.
The law of 16 July 2002 concerning the governing of Vatican City State defined the current role and structure of the Department of Health and Welfare.
The Department assures the protection of public welfare and health throughout the territory of Vatican City State.
The Director of Health and Welfare has a medical degree and is appointed by the Pope. The Department’s medical personnel consist of permanent healthcare staff, medical doctors and specialists of various medical and surgical fields.
The administrative personnel carries out the assignments give by the Director with respect to their professional preparation and rank.
Technical Healthcare Personnel
Healthcare personnel include technical specialists and religious and lay nurses with the necessary professional qualifications. The work of the technical specialists, nurses and assistant personnel is coordinated by a healthcare specialist functioning as a head nurse.
In addition to their current professional responsibilities, those who are part of the assistant staff work with the doctors and nurses as “stretcher bearers” during papal celebrations, ceremonies and audiences.
Work and Activities
The Department of Health and Welfare carries out its activities in Vatican City, in the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo and in buildings and areas specified by the Lateran Treaty, within the limits laws and regulations.
The Department provides the following services:
- healthcare services;
- occupational medicine;
- forensic medicine;
- protection of the physical, territorial, living and working environments;
- prevention from and vaccination against infectious and widespread diseases;
- food safety and inspection;
- morgue security;
- veterinary healthcare;
- health and safety in building inspections;
- relations with national and international healthcare organizations and associations.
The Department carries out its work through the following facilities:
- Management Office;
- First Aid Station;
- Emergency Aid;
- General and Specialist Healthcare;
- Public Health;
- Occupational Medicine;
- Forensic Medicine.
First Aid Station and Emergency Health Assistance
The First Aid Station is open around the clock and operates only in Vatican City. It is located next to the visiting rooms of the doctors and specialists at the Department of Health and Welfare in the Belvedere building whose entrance is opposite the Post Office.
Emergency aid required by anyone will be provided only if an urgent and serious health matter requiring immediate intervention occurs on Vatican City territory or its adjacent extraterritorial areas. Emergency health service is also available during papal celebrations, ceremonies, audiences and large public events.