218894 A rural community for human rights: How a Montana county seeks to realize the right to health care

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Anja Rudiger, PhD , National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, New York, NY
In extremely rural and frontier areas, poor and low-income residents encounter particular difficulties in accessing the health services they need. Public administrations in sparsely populated counties often lack the capacity to support disadvantaged residents and rely primarily on federal support for community health centers. In Lewis and Clark County, Montana, however, the local Board of Health took the unusual step to adopt a resolution recognizing the human right to health and setting up a Universal Health Care Task Force to identify how to achieve universal, equitable access to care. Despite a complete lack of funding to support this process, the task force, composed of community members, is in the process of completing a community health needs assessment before embarking on the development of an action plan for reform. The needs assessment was supported by a partnership between a national and a state-based human rights organization (NESRI and the Montana Human Rights Network), which assisted the task force in planning and conducting quantitative and qualitative research. In particular, task force members were trained in organizing and facilitating community-based focus groups. This presentation will report on the findings of ten focus groups held with community members across the county, and on lessons learned from the participatory nature of the needs assessment process. Interestingly, two thirds of focus group participants considered health care a human right, and many saw it as a responsibility of local government, together with the community as a whole, to ensure that people can be as healthy as possible.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
To explain and apply the role of the human rights framework and its value for local policy change To describe and discuss community-led needs assessment processes To identify measures that rural and frontier counties can take to address health care inequities

Keywords: Rural Communities, Needs Assessment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I direct the human right to health program and I advised on this research project
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.