Online Program

Crucial role of evidence to increase uptake and utilization of human rights-based approaches in public health practice

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Kumanan Rasanathan, MD, UNICEF, New York, NY
Better evidence on the impact of human rights-based approaches to health is crucial to increasing their uptake in public health practice. While public health practitioners often accept and endorse the importance of human rights, explicit use of human rights tools and instruments is much more limited. This is partly due to a lack of knowledge on human rights discourse and approaches to health, but is also due to skepticism about the impact of such work on health outcomes. This can be seen in recent analyses of global health agencies’ uptake and utilization of human rights-based approaches, even when such institutions’ central documents prioritise the importance of human rights. At the same time, recent reviews of the effect on health outcomes of human rights-based approaches has found difficulty in convincingly identifying clear impact and verifiable pathways of action – for example, in the field of maternal and child health.

Given the increasing emphasis on evidence-based policy and programming in public health, for all the inconsistencies in application of this principle, greater attention is required to the evidence for impact of human rights-based approaches on health outcomes. New methodologies and approaches are called for, as well as greater engagement of the human rights and health community in pursuing research using methods traditionally employed for demonstrating the effectiveness of other types of interventions. Mixed methodologies, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative approaches, should be utilized, and field of implementation research could in particular be engaged to show impact in specific contexts of health systems.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify how insufficient use is being made of human rights-based approaches in public health practice, using the example of maternal and child health. Discuss how there is insufficient evidence for the impact of human right-based approaches on health outcomes. Demonstrate how different methodologies of research could help to address both these gaps.

Keyword(s): Human Rights, Maternal and Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the UNICEF Health focal point for human rights. I have published on human rights-based approaches to health.
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.