NEW HHRJ SERIES: Calling for blogs on SDGs, Accountability, and the Right to Health

Robust accountability processes and mechanisms are an essential component of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In our recent SDG SERIES, contributors repeatedly called for human rights to underpin these processes and mechanisms. In response, the Health and Human Rights Journal is now calling for contributions for a new series of blogs on “SDGs, Accountability, and the Right to Health.” Contributions may explore practical and procedural interpretations arising from an…

Mary Robinson Introduces the COP21 SERIES: Climate change, COP21, and the right to health

Introduction by Mary Robinson I am delighted to welcome and launch this Health and Human Rights Journal series on climate change, COP21 and the right to health. The initiative is timely; on Monday October 19, 2015, climate negotiators will reconvene in Bonn, Germany, for the final five days of negotiations before the Conference of Parties (COP21) begins in Paris on November 30. This is an incredibly important year; 2015 could…

World AIDS Day 2020: Further Shifting the Paradigm to Transform the HIV Response

Courtenay Sprague The “HIV/AIDS pandemic has marked all of our lives, and I suspect we share a sense that it has led us and the world forward in some way,” wrote the late Dr Jonathan Mann, health and human rights luminary, field-builder, and founder of the Health and Human Rights Journal.[1] In 1996, he posed the question, “What are the transformative possibilities of the AIDS pandemic?”[2] Every year December 1…

Housing Evictions, Human Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Patrick Leisure The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly highlighted the magnitude of the eviction crisis facing many tenants in the United States.[1] Troublingly, recent research shows the eviction crisis largely falls along racial lines. One study illustrated that “people of color, particularly black and latinx people, constitute approximately 80% of people facing eviction.”[2] Another revealed that, controlling for education, Black households are more than twice as likely to be evicted than…

A Time for Optimism? Decolonizing the Determinants of Health

Jonathan Cohen The global movement against anti-Black racism has coincided with a pandemic that has revealed and magnified racial inequality, creating a watershed moment for public health. We are witnessing not only the social, economic, and political determinants of vulnerability to infectious disease, but also the racial and colonial hierarchies that lie underneath these roots. Meeting this moment requires that we look back at the history of public health and…

A New Blog Series: A Time for Optimism?

As the world bids farewell to this sad and traumatic year, in which we have witnessed the divisions created by inequality, racism, and poor leadership, is it possible to entertain a sense of hope? Hope that COVID-19 has shown us how connected we are, shown what happens when we neglect the frailest, the poorest, the most discriminated against, and that this might bring about change? That we have learned how…

The Right to Health in Times of Pandemic: What Can We Learn from the UK’s Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak?

Lisa Montel, Anuj Kapilashrami, Michel P. Coleman, and Claudia Allemani Abstract The UK’s response to COVID-19 has been widely criticized by scientists and the public. According to EuroMOMO, a European mortality monitoring initiative, the excess mortality that may be attributable to COVID-19 in England is one of the highest in Europe, second only to Spain. While critiqued from a public health perspective, much less attention is given to the implications…

A Right-to-Health Lens on Perinatal Mental Health Care in South Africa

Shelley Brown, Gillian MacNaughton, and Courtenay Sprague Abstract South African women experience some of the highest rates of depression and anxiety globally. Despite South Africa’s laudable human rights commitments to mental health in law, perinatal women are at high risk of common mental disorders due to socioeconomic factors, and they may lack access to mental health services. We used a right to mental health framework, paired with qualitative methods, to…

Beyond Reproduction: The “First 1,000 Days” Approach to Nutrition through a Gendered Rights-Based Lens

Mai-Lei Woo Kinshella, Sophie E. Moore, and Rajavel Elango Abstract The First 1,000 Days approach highlights the importance of adequate nutrition in early life—from conception to a child’s second birthday—for good development and growth throughout the child’s life and potentially onto their own offspring. The approach has been highly influential in mobilizing policy attention and resources to improve maternal and infant nutrition in global health and development. This paper undertakes…

COVID-19 Clinical Bias, Persons with Disabilities, and Human Rights

Omar Sultan Haque and Michael Ashley Stein Persons with disabilities have historically been discriminated against by society, including fulfilment of the right to equal access to health care.[1] The more egregious practices, historically as well as today, include outright denials of access to health care, involuntary sterilization, forced institutionalization, coerced treatment, and substituted decision-making.[2] Discrimination also occurs by more insidious practices. For instance, the public health construct of DALYS (disability…

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…