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Posted September 4, 2014
The new Special Rapporteur on the human right to health assumed his duties on August 1. Selected over the summer by the Human Rights Council, Dr. Dainius Pūras of Lithuania is the third individual to occupy the honorary position, the duties of which consist of ongoing monitoring of the status of the right to health throughout the world. Pūras has specialized in child rights and mental health since the 1980s, and has been affiliated with a diverse range of institutions, including Lithuania’s “For child rights” coalition, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF, and WHO. A professor at Lithuania’s Vilnius University, he has also served as the institution’s Dean of Medicine. Pūras’s application letter for the Special Rapporteur position notes the importance of personalized patient care in maintaining patient health and avoiding human rights abuses:
I have often observed that doctors and policy makers make decisions without consulting with patients and their family members. This mistake has led in numerous instances to sad consequences, amounting to grave violations of human rights. The need to apply modern human rights principles in healthcare practice remains important globally, and should be raised at the highest possible level.
He writes also of an idealistic, “twofold approach” toward fulfilling the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, aimed at promoting not only the principles and values related to the health rights, but also the critical mechanisms required for meeting these rights:
Firstly, it is fundamental to continue an effective promotion of right-to-health principles and values, such as non-discrimination, equality, participation, autonomy, transparency. Secondly, it is important to implement key right-to-health mechanisms, such as situation analysis, development of national strategies, monitoring and accountability.