Establishing Good Practice for Human Rights-Based Approaches to Mental Health Care and Psychosocial Support in Kenya

Faraaz Mahomed, Jacqueline Bhabha, Michael Ashley Stein, and Dainius Pūras Abstract A human rights-based approach (HRBA) to health has long been seen as an important way in which to address public health needs in a manner that is equitable and conducive to social justice. Yet the actual content of an HRBA to health remains unspecific, and therefore implementation remains heterogeneous. This situation is even more challenging in the field of…

Public Health Policy Shapes COVID-19 Impact: UN Expert’s Final Report

Dainius Pūras In my final report as Special Rapporteur on the right to health, presented to the UN General Assembly this week, I stress that the most effective “vaccine” for global health challenges has been, and will always be, the full realization of all human rights, including the promotion of physical and mental health through the meaningful participation and empowerment of all people. Throughout my six-year tenure of the right…

Ameliorating COVID-19’s Disproportionate Impact on Black and Hispanic Communities: Proposed Policy Initiatives for the United States

Audrey Chapman The COVID-19 epidemic has shone a bright light on structural racism in US society and on the inadequacies of a health care system that has significantly disadvantaged racial and ethnic minorities while giving preference to white Americans.[1] Research and disease surveillance have documented the disproportionate impact of the virus on the Black and Hispanic communities. Confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths are disproportionately higher in communities in which these…

A Health-Based Case against Canadian Arms Transfers to Saudi Arabia

Rhonda Ferguson and Zarlasht Jamal Abstract Under the Arms Trade Treaty, state parties must assess the extent to which the export of conventional arms might contribute to, inter alia, serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. The stated aims of Canada’s arms export licensing decision-making process are, similarly, to assess such risks on a case-by-case basis. This paper examines Canada’s ongoing arms transfer arrangements with Saudi Arabia in…

Police Discrimination, Misconduct, and Stigmatization of Female Sex Workers in Kenya: Associations with Delayed and Avoided Health Care Utilization and Lower Consistent Condom Use

David Kuria Mbote, Laura Nyblade, Caroline Kemunto, Kayla Giger, Joshua Kimani, Pia Mingkwan, Stella Njuguna, Emmanuel Oga, and John D. Kraemer Abstract Discrimination and violence against sex workers by police are common in many populations and is associated with negative health outcomes, as well as being per se violations of human rights laws and norms. There is a close and mutually reinforcing nexus between legally actionable rights violations and stigma,…

COVID-19 in Turkmenistan: No Data, No Health Rights

Aynabat Yaylymova Turkmenistan, with a population of about 6 million, has, as of October 1, 2020, reported no SARS-CoV-2 infections, nor any COVID-19 related deaths.[1] There are no daily updates and barely any testing. However, there are reports of more deaths from acute respiratory illnesses than normal, and the autocratic government, known for endemic corruption, puts these down to dust and air pollution.[2] Despite the government’s refusal to acknowledge that…

UN Experts: Access to Contraception and Abortion Must Continue During COVID-19

UN Experts joined together to remind states of their human rights duty to ensure access to contraception for anyone who wants it, including during COVID-19.  On World Contraception Day (26 September), the experts, led by the new Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, states, “The right to sexual and reproductive health includes women’s freedom to decide whether to be pregnant, how many children to have, and…

COVID-19: Urgent Need to Find Alternatives to Prison Sentences in Malawi

Marie Claire Van Hout In May 2020, the World Health Organization joined with other UN agencies in a call for governments to recognise the heightened vulnerability of prisoners to COVID-19 and to act urgently to reduce the risks.[1] Human rights organisations submitted letters to the Southern Africa Development Community and its Member States highlighting the severe deficits in the prison system during COVID-19, and they drew special attention to pregnant…

A Virtual Roundtable with Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Health

Carmel Williams and Joseph J. Amon Introduction Since 2002 the United Nations, through the (now) Human Rights Council, has mandated experts to advance the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, is the fourth, and most recent appointment to this post, and the first woman to hold it. Called Special Rapporteurs, these ‘independent experts’ promote and protect the right to…

Paradigm Under Threat: Health and Human Rights Today

Jonathan Cohen This Viewpoint is an abridged version of the keynote address of the 15th Anniversary Symposium of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, delivered on October 15, 2019. The author thanks Dr. Chris Beyrer, Director of the CPHHR, for the invitation and permission to republish this piece. Health is both a window and a door: a window into the challenges…