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…

ALMA-ATA at 40: From Siloes to Synergy—Linking Primary Health Care to Human Rights

Gillian MacNaughton and Diane F. Frey In the 1970s, two international milestones emerged to advance health for all. In 1978, the International Conference on Primary Health Care—a joint project of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF—adopted the Declaration of Alma-Ata. The Declaration called “for urgent and effective national and international action to develop and implement primary health care throughout the world and particularly in developing countries.”[1] It also reaffirmed…

Social Solidarity, Human Rights, and Collective Action: Considerations in the Implementation of the National Health Insurance in South Africa

Renate Douwes, Maria Stuttaford, and Leslie London Abstract Participation is recognized as an important contribution to implementing the right to health. It features as a key element of the global movement to achieve universal health coverage. The mobilization of groups into collective action is central in this. In South Africa, universal health coverage has become a feature of health policies, with the country’s new National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme in…

Strategic Litigation to Advance Public Health

Tamar Ezer and Priti Patel Abstract The HIV movement has relied on strategic litigation as an important tool to develop and enforce legal protections critical to health. This experience contains lessons on the potential of strategic litigation to advance public health more generally. Beyond impacting laws and policies, strategic litigation can change practice, breathing life into existing legal rules never implemented. While cases may target a particular law, policy, or…

​ALMA-ATA at 40: Time for WHO to Walk the Talk of Human Rights

Curtis F.J. Doebbler The 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration defined the ‘Health for All by the Year 2000’ strategy. Its call for inclusiveness was underpinned by a commitment to the right to health, driven by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its then Director-General Halfdan Mahler (left). The declaration focused on the most vulnerable among us, our children. It advocated an approach to primary health founded in the right to health for all. Alma-Ata signalled…

ALMA-ATA at 40: The Power of Sympathy Groups and Participation

Anthony Costello Few doctors realize that their work is often about human rights. A few years ago Flavia Bustreo, then Assistant Director-General of WHO, and Paul Hunt, the first UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health, wrote to me to ask for some case studies of our community women’s group programs in Asia and Africa. It hadn’t occurred to me that mobilising women through…

Letter to the Editor: Malnutrition, Poverty, and Climate Change Are Also Human Rights Issues in Child Labor

Adele Jones Athena Ramos’s paper “Child Labor in Global Tobacco Production: A Human Rights Approach to an Enduring Dilemma” highlights the critical issue of human rights for working children, especially those working in hazardous tobacco farming, where agriculture is intricately connected to global business interests.[1] The author includes an extensive review of the literature on child labor in tobacco farming and the human rights that are ignored in, as she…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Its Values are Relevant to the Data Economy

Carmel Williams In 1978 when the Alma-Ata Declaration called on urgent action by all governments to protect and promote the health of all, primary health care was described as ‘essential health care, based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible … and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain…’. It was also, in the first paragraph, acknowledged as a…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Reviving an Old Script to Strengthen Health Governance

Allan Maleche and Nerima Were The Alma-Ata Declaration had the wisdom 40 years ago to state: All governments should formulate national policies, strategies and plans of action to launch and sustain primary health care as part of a comprehensive national health system and in coordination with other sectors. To this end, it will be necessary to exercise political will, to mobilize the country’s resources and to use available external resources…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Primary Health Care Remains Key to Health for All—Now

Claudio Schuftan A contemporary primary health care policy needs renewed commitments, which, while affirming the fundamental positions of 40 years ago, also takes into account today’s realities. We have to address the obstacles that have blocked implementation of primary health care since the Alma-Ata Declaration in 1978. Therefore, to embed primary health care in today’s social and political processes it must: include public health interventions, a working referral system to…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Time for a Critical Health Economics

Sara L.M. Davis When the Alma-Ata declaration was launched in 1978, it called for “urgent action” by states and others to ensure a “level of health that will permit [people] to lead a socially and economically productive life.”[1] A product of its time, the declaration emphasized that economic development was an unqualified social good; the world did not know as much in 1978 about the problems that unrestrained economic development…