Ranking Political Pitches Aimed at Reducing Drug Costs

Fran Quigley The cost of medicines is a top priority for the new US Congress according to a post-election Harvard poll. Each year, one in five Americans skips doses or fails to fill prescriptions because of the inaccessibly high prices, denying people their rights to healthcare. Medicines are priced as high as $750,000 per patient, and costs for many drugs have doubled or even tripled in recent years. When public outrage builds, politicians scramble to respond.…

Rights-Based Approach to the Overdose Crisis: Don’t Leave Pain Patients Behind

Laura Mills and Diederik Lohman In her recent blog, “America’s Opioid Epidemic: A Rights-Based Approach,” Juliet Sorensen outlines key elements of a rights-based response to the overdose crisis that is claiming tens of thousands of lives in the United States each year. Human Rights Watch wholeheartedly agrees that a human rights framework should be fundamental to any response to the overdose epidemic, but that it should not undermine the rights…

Rights-Based Approach to Overdose Epidemic Must Include Decriminalization

Diederik Lohman and Kasia Malinowska In her blog “America’s Opioid Epidemic: A Rights-Based Approach”, Juliet Sorensen argues that the United States must commit “resources to proven interventions and the highest attainable standard of care” to turnaround an overdose crisis that is killing tens of thousands of Americans every year. While we agree with Sorensen’s call for more funds, we would argue that a measure that does not require resources—indeed, that…

America’s Opioid Epidemic: A Rights-Based Approach

Juliet S. Sorensen America’s opioid epidemic has devastated communities across the country, killing 70,000 people in 2017. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have been increasing since at least 1999. The epidemic spread in 2010 with rapid increases in overdose deaths involving heroin, and further spiked in 2013, with significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. If we address America’s opioid epidemic from the premise that there is a right…

Politics Deny Cancer Patients their Health Rights in Gaza

Dana Moss and Mor Efrat In early 2017, 39-year-old Faida Abeed from Deir al Balah, Gaza, felt a lump in her breast. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy treatment and excision of the tumor. The necessary follow-up treatment is radio-iodine therapy and for that she would need to leave Gaza as the treatment is unavailable in the Strip. In October 2017, after receiving confirmation that she had…

Human Rights Day Message—Put Human Rights in Global Drug Policy

José Ramos-Horta Around the world, people have experienced one of the most widespread and shameful human rights failures of our time—the global war on drugs. Barely a day passes without some tragedy or abuse fuelled by misguided drug policies hitting the headlines. Day by day, the costs of the war on drugs are tallied in the suffering, death, and missed opportunities across the entire drugs market chain, from production to…

Active Global Citizenship: Ethical Living to Promote Human Rights

Bernadette O’Hare Many people want to live lifestyles that are in harmony with their values, and to make choices that do not inadvertently harm the economic and social human rights of others. Their priorities may be shaped, in part by the most pressing concerns in the world, such as the environment, inequality between and within countries, and include the planet (climate change), people (the impact our choices have on others)…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Time to Expand to Planetary Health Care

Renzo Guinto This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration, a landmark global health policy document that reinforced health as a fundamental human right and emphasized that gross health inequalities are by no means acceptable. It also prescribed primary health care (PHC) founded on essential health services and community participation as a vital strategy towards achieving ‘Health for All’ by year 2000. In 2018, we still do not…

ALMA-ATA at 40: Insights from Canada

Martha Roberts, Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay, Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Farah Shroff, Smita Pakhale, and Lori Hanson As an engaged participant in the 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care, which issued the Alma-Ata Declaration, Canada affirmed that: The existing gross inequality in the health status of the people particularly between developed and developing countries as well as within countries is politically, socially and economically unacceptable and is, therefore, of common concern to all…

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…