Chile Celebrates its First Steps Towards Fulfilling Abortion Rights

Lidia Casas and Lieta Vivaldi Despite its recognition for the democratic institutions that had been built before and since the Pinochet dictatorship, Chile was until Monday among a small and disgraced club of nations that treated women as less than full equals by criminalizing abortion under all circumstances. After historic legislation introduced by President Michelle Bachelet was approved, the Constitutional Tribunal approved the exceptions to the criminalization of abortion. As…

To Heal Humankind: The Right to Health in History

Book Review by Fran Quigley Although I have not met Adam Gaffney, I feel indebted to him. Through his new book, To Heal Humankind: The Right to Health in History (Routledge), Gaffney, a physician and instructor at Harvard Medical School and active member of Physicians for a National Health Program, has given me a big boost in my work as an activist and teacher. The book provided me with cautionary…

African HIV Think-Tank Must Focus on Young Women

Oagile Bethuel Key Dingake Through the leadership of UNAIDS, the African Think-Tank on HIV, Health and Social Justice (the Think-Tank) was created in March 2015 to provide a platform for strategic thinking, leadership and collaboration to support, expand, and accelerate action and results on human rights and social justice in the context of HIV across the African continent. I believe it is imperative that the Think-Tank includes among its priorities…

UK Abortion Help for NI Women Offers a Partial Solution

Claire Pierson and Fiona Bloomer Restrictive abortion legislation in Northern Ireland (NI) results in approximately 1000 women per year travelling to England to access the procedure. But these women are not able to access abortion on the UK National Health Service, despite being UK tax-payers; instead they must pay as private patients. Late in June, the Minister for Women and Equalities in England stated that the government will pay the…

Drug Pricing Executive Order: Likely Win for Pharma

Fran Quigley Despite President Trump’s repeated promises to take on the pharmaceutical industry and drug pricing, his recently released Executive Order shows he will do no such thing. In fact, Trump hired industry executives to lead the process of drafting his policy response that now includes an industry wish list of eased regulation and extended monopolies. This is the industry he had previously described as “getting away with murder.” The…

WHO Budget Commitments Disappoint Global Health Advocates

WHO Watchers in Geneva Fran Quigley, in Geneva The election of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the new director-general of the World Health Organization has dominated the news from the 70th World Health Assembly. But, arguably, it was not the most important decision the delegates have made here. The WHA yesterday approved a two-year program budget, which may determine if Dr. Tedros and the global team he will soon lead…

New WHO Director-General Embraces Universal Coverage, Cancer Focus Urged

Fran Quigley, in Geneva In his first press conference as director-general-elect of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today made his core mission clear. “As I traveled in recent months, the message I heard around the world was that health is a rights issue,” he said. “What the world promised in 1948 when the WHO was instituted still is true today. That means that all roads should lead…

Dr Tedros Promises WHO Reform with Human Rights at the Core

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been elected Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the next five years. Dr Tedros, Ethiopia’s foreign minister and former health minister, believes WHO must evolve and adapt to urgent global health challenges, and “put the right to health at the core of its functions, and be the global vanguard to champion them.” Universal health coverage will be his topmost priority. “The growing momentum around…

Listen to Civil Society: Medicines for People, Not Profit—Dr Chan

Fran Quigley, from the WHA in Geneva In her final address to the World Health Assembly as WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan identified access to medicines as the most contentious issue of her decade-long tenure. That struggle was engaged, she said, “especially when intellectual property and the patent system were perceived as barriers to both affordable prices and the development of new products for diseases of the poor.” Dr. Chan…

Remove the For-Profit Variable from Clinical Drug Trials

Fran Quigley At first glance, it seems that clinical trials are the much-criticized pharmaceutical industry’s best contribution to the medicines process. The industry leans on governments to fund early-stage research, then claims the patent rights to the most promising fruits of that research. That arrangement frustrates many public health advocates, especially since it enables the industry to collect more in profits, and invest more in marketing and lobbying, than it…