187363 Human rights and health systems development in the developing world

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 10:30 AM

Eric Friedman, JD , Physicians for Human Rights, Washington, DC
Leonard Rubenstein, JD , Physicians for Human Rights, Washington, DC
The importance of moving from a disease-based model for health in the developing world to a health systems model has gained widespread acceptance. Criteria for developing effective health systems are being developed, but there has been an absence of attention to how human rights principles can and should apply to such developments. As a result, health systems may be designed without sufficient attention to the poorest and most vulnerable citizens, including those who are subjected to exclusion, marginalization and discrimination. Based on an analysis by Physicians for Human Rights, this session will explore both how a human rights framework applies to health system development and why it makes such a large difference in potential outcomes. The session will especially review the requirements of a human rights approach, which requires governments to take necessary steps to prevent disease (e.g., surveillance, immunization, assuring clean water and sanitation, protection against forms of discrimination that lead to ill health); and moves on to require the government to assure the existence of health services that are available (including having sufficient staffing and supplies), are physically, geographically and financially accessible, are culturally acceptable to all, are of high quality, and are effective in meeting the needs of poor and vulnerable people. A human rights approach also demands that members of the affected populations are provided an opportunity to participate in the structure of health services and have access to mechanisms to hold the government for compliance with its obligations. The session will also contrast a human rights approach to health systems with other approaches. Finally, it will also discuss how a human rights approach can be applied to existing initiatives regarding health systems development.

Learning Objectives:
Understand how the right to the right to the highest attainable standard of health applies to health system development; Recognize the implications of a human rights approach for planning for health systems; Analyze health systems using human rights criteria

Keywords: Human Rights, Health Care Restructuring

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have prepared sessions for APHA many times in the past and am an expert in the field that is the subject of the abstract
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.