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…

Civil Society Unites to Fight for Affordable Medicines

By Fran Quigley Frustration over Congress’s failure to reduce prescription drug prices is bringing civil society organizations together. Drug prices are continuing to increase far above rates of inflation, year after year, and more than 80% of American voters think lowering drug prices should be a priority for Congress. The civil society groups uniting to fight for their right to medicines vary in experience with some having long, international legacies of…

“Everyone Said No”: Key Populations and Biometrics in Kenya

By Sara L.M. Davis and Allan Maleche Hands off our fingerprints! That was the message from Kenyan civil society activists who blocked the use of biometric data, such as fingerprints or iris scans, in a government study of HIV. This case study of rights advocacy is the subject of a report, Everyone Said No: Biometrics, HIV and Human Rights, a Kenya Case Study, published by KELIN and the Kenya Key…

Patient Advocacy Successes in Fight for Medicines

By Fran Quigley Access to essential medicines is a well-established component of the human right to health, but it is a right that remains elusive for millions of people across the globe. The United Nations estimates that 10 million people each year die because they cannot afford medicines. Even in the United States one out of every five Americans does not fill a prescription each year because they cannot afford…

Challenges in Priority Setting from a Legal Perspective in Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, and Mexico

Sofía Charvel, Fernanda Cobo, Silvana Larrea, and Juliana Baglietto Abstract Priority setting is the process through which a country’s health system establishes the drugs, interventions, and treatments it will provide to its population. Our study evaluated the priority-setting legal instruments of Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, and Mexico to determine the extent to which each reflected the following elements: transparency, relevance, review and revision, and oversight and supervision, according to Norman…

Revisiting Health Rights Litigation and Access to Medications in Costa Rica: Preliminary Evidence from the Cochrane Collaboration Reform

Olman Rodríguez Loaiza, Sigrid Morales, Ole Frithjof Norheim, and Bruce M. Wilson Abstract In response to the incremental creation of an expansive constitutional right to health in Costa Rica, the country’s rights-friendly constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court (known as the Sala IV) unleashed a flood of litigation for medications, treatments, and other health care issues. This development was met by widespread criticism from within the health sector, which complained…

Realizing the Fundamental Right to Health through Litigation: The Colombian Case

Aquiles Ignacio Arrieta-Gómez   Abstract Colombia has made significant progress in the recognition and protection of the right to health. Using litigation—a structural element of the democratic Colombian design—many people have had to fight in order to enjoy effective access to health care. Such litigation has proven a pacific and democratic way to protect a constitutional principle: health as a fundamental and justiciable right. In 2008, in the wake of thousands…

EDITORIAL Health in the Courts of Latin America

Octávio Luiz Motta Ferraz To address any complex issue in a large and diverse geographical region of the world is always a daunting and risky task. Latin America is no exception. Despite the semblance of uniformity that the use of the term “Latin American” often misleadingly imparts, the truth is that there is no such thing as a homogeneous bloc of countries occupying the territory running from the border between…

Individual Health Care Litigation in Brazil through a Different Lens: Strengthening Health Technology Assessment and New Models of Health Care Governance

Danielle Da Costa Leite Borges Abstract This article investigates policy and bureaucracy changes provoked by individual litigation for health care rights in Brazil, especially the one regarding access to medicines, looking at the effects it produced in relation to health technology assessment (HTA) and health care governance. The article first contextualizes the social, legal, and political conditions for the development of individual litigation for health care rights in Brazil. Then…

How the Uruguayan Judiciary Shapes Access to High-Priced Medicines: A Critique through the Right to Health Lens

Lucía Berro Pizzarossa, Katrina Perehudoff, and José Castela Forte Abstract Uruguay has witnessed an ever-increasing number of domestic court claims for high-priced medicines despite its comprehensive universal coverage of pharmaceuticals. In response to the current national debate and development of domestic legislation concerning high-priced medicines, we review whether Uruguayan courts adequately interpret the state’s core obligations to provide essential medicines and ensure non-discriminatory access in line with the right to…

Can Judges Ration with Compassion? A Priority-Setting Rights Matrix

Christopher Newdick  Abstract How should courts supervise health service resource allocation? Although practice varies widely, four broad approaches can be represented on a matrix comparing, on two axes, (a) individual-community rights and (b) substantive-procedural remedies. Examples from each compartment of the matrix are discussed and, although the community-procedural approach is recommended as a general rule, a range of other responses within the matrix may also be desirable. Introduction All over…