245460 Ensuring political accountability in health policy design and implementation

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hope O'Brien, MPA, MPH , National Student Program, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), Cambridge, MA
Human rights principles can be the basis of strategies to achieve social justice and public health goals. These principles include accountability, participation and inclusion, non-discrimination, and the legal obligation of states to citizens. Because the human rights fundamentally changes the relationship between governments and their citizens, a rights-based approach to health permits citizens to be claimants of rights rather than victims, clients, or recipients of charity. Human rights offer rights claimants new ways to demand accountability for states' legal obligations.

Human rights brings to the field of public health a method for holding rights granters (eg., a federal government) accountable to rights holders (eg. their citizens) through formal and informal mechanisms. Advocates for women's health and human rights have used such mechanisms as the documentation of violations, raising public awareness through media dissemination, advocacy with officials, community engagement, and litigation.

The increased emphasis on monitoring and evaluation over the past decade provides excellent examples of how measuring progress stated goals can be advocacy towards goals that are mutually considered legitimate. This scrutiny is a crucial part of the political process, necessary to the achievement of effective health policy.

Because human rights is concerned with both process and outcomes, advocates for women's health policy must be a part of both policy design and policy implementation. Through the human rights principle of participation, advocates can ensure political accountability.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Participants will identify new opportunities for advocacy for better health policy, based on a clear framework, case studies, and analysis.

Keywords: Human Rights, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a policy analyst, program manager, human rights educator, and women's health advocate for over a decade.
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.