CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA 2021 Annual Meeting and Expo

Human Rights Forum

Meeting theme: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness"

Submission Deadline: Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Human Rights Forum of the American Public Health Association (APHA) seeks abstracts for the APHA’s Annual Hybrid Meeting 2021 occurring October 23-27, in Denver, CO. The goal of the Human Rights Forum is to advance the idea that human rights are an essential foundation for public health—research, policy, and practice. 

 Human rights are identified as a guide for public health, a vision that all public health scholars and practitioners should uphold in and throughout their work. Under this rights-based approach to health, health disparities can be understood as rights violations embedded in multiple levels from structural to individual. Additionally, this framework allows space for strategies to empower individuals in order to restrict, demand, and embolden government action to respond to the diversity of violations presented throughout different contexts. The right to health provides a normative framework with universal standards to articulate government responsibilities and evaluate health outcomes; empirical evidence supports the assertion that the existence of the right leads to positive health outcomes.

 The Human Rights Forum seeks abstracts this year that analyze the different manifestations of injustices and human rights violations in the context of health, education, food, shelter, immigration, and the pandemic and provide strategic solutions to narrowing such inequalities.

  • Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine—Global Inequalities
    Wealthy nations in North America and Europe will get the COVID-19 vaccine much earlier than the rest of the world. In fact, the Economist Unit does not predict the vaccine will be widespread in Africa until even as late as 2023. Developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, are going to be excluded from access to the vaccines for some time. This is a massive health equity concern despite the understanding that vaccines should be viewed as a common global good. It is predicted that while the Global North will go on holiday this summer, much of the Global South will still be dying at the same rates we see today. It is unethical to prevent individuals from receiving a life-saving vaccine because of the country they reside in or the amount of wealth they have in their pocket. Compulsory licensing is being discussed to allow developing countries to produce the vaccine, similar to the movement in the 90s to expand access to HIV/AIDS drugs, but so far, the World Trade Organization has not made a decision to do so. Whatever the decision, vaccination will still be a problem around the world. Unless dramatic changes are made, billions of people across the globe will not be able to get an effective and safe vaccine against Covid-19 for years to come. This session will provide a platform to discuss from a rights-based perspective the potential solutions that public health professionals along with other disciplines can offer to address this inequality.

  • Homelessness in the United States—a Universal Human Right Violation, Bringing Critical Analysis and Solutions
    The lack of affordable housing in the U.S. and the increase of homelessness across the nation in recent decades among diverse groups of the population—youth, students, veterans, immigrants, runaways, and families—greatly speaks of the violation of the universal human right of adequate housing established in international law. According to the public-school data collected by the U.S. Department of Education estimates were that over 1 million students experienced homeless during the school year of 2017-2018. Housing is an underlying determinant of health, and the lack of stable housing leads to health inequalities and other vulnerabilities among homeless populations, which in return, increases their morbidity and mortality rates. This session invites abstracts that illustrate the complexities a state of homelessness and insecure housing imposes on the health of people as well as the vulnerabilities that such public health issues bring forth to society at large. Some of these vulnerabilities include higher risks for sex and labor exploitation, higher rates of STIs and other communal viruses such as COVID-19, acute and chronic illnesses, and food insecurity. This session will present papers that have included and applied a human rights framework and provide evidence-based solutions to this current public health problem. 
  • Human Right to Health: Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic
    In the United States and around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the diverse types of inequalities underlying health disparities. Although this pandemic does not discriminate based on race and ethnicity, racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately represented among COVID-19 cases, and the rates of COVID-19 associated hospitalizations and deaths are higher among Hispanic or Latino, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic American Indian communities than other races in the U.S. These disparities highlight the long-existing inequities in social determinants of health, including access to healthcare and poverty. We invite abstracts that focus on the underlying factors at individual and structural levels that increased the risk of exposure, morbidity, and mortality among racial and ethnic minorities in the United States within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for human rights violations to health and health equity. 
  • Public Health Concerns in Light of the Inequalities in the Access to Quality Education and School Services
    Access to quality education is one of the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030. Despite the U.S. being a world leader in economic development, access to quality education is not always a reality among low income communities and racial minorities. Quality education remains a privilege for those with higher income, especially throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. Education, especially among the low-income communities throughout the U.S., is key for creating healthier communities since it provides access to a better standard of living overall. In the middle of the pandemic, these inequalities have augmented. The urgency in addressing the access to quality education and the continuation of all needed services that school-setting provides among the disenfranchised are of great need. Schools across the U.S. provide not only education, but other services such as free breakfasts and lunches, educational support for children with learning challenges, counseling, social connections, bilingual resources for non-native English speakers, and after-school care among other services. The consequences of these inequalities and the lack of needed services are already creating negative mental and physical health outcomes. Ensuring access to these essential services soon post-COVID-19, is imperative for the health of minorities and their communities. Through the human rights lens, this session aims to assemble abstracts that discuss implications of lack of quality education and all the services provided as a result of COVID-19 pandemic and the health impacts resulted from the lack of these services and quality of education among the most vulnerable.
  • Social Injustices in the Light of Trump’s Administration--Immigration and Asylum Seekers
    The Trump administration has created policies that have limited access to asylum for diverse groups fleeing persecution, violence, and oppression. Many of them are “stuck” in the US-Mexican border with very limited opportunity to receive protection and have subsequently faced human rights violations. At the same time, within the U.S., family separation and the criminalization of those who possess no legal status in the country has grown. This type of criminalization against undocumented individuals has resulted in the detention of thousands of children, youth, and adults in recent years. What is worse, is that while detainees wait for their cases to be heard by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, some have faced violations of human rights such as lack of mental and healthcare access, lack of legal representation among others. This session invites papers that have methodologically analyzed these two anti-immigration phenomena in recent years in the context of the U.S. and have exposed the public health challenges that both—asylum seekers and undocumented families—face through the public health and human rights frameworks. 

Abstracts must be submitted under one of the categories above. All submissions must relate to human rights as a basis for public health. Abstracts are limited to 250 words. Referral to web pages or URLs may not be used for abstracts. An author may not submit the same abstract to more than one Section, SPIG, Caucus or other Forum of the APHA. Oral presentations are generally 13-15 minutes in length, with 4 presenters per session being standard. Those presenting posters should display and be available to answer questions throughout the scheduled 60-minute poster session. If you have any questions, please contact the Co-Chairs Programming Officers.


Program Planner Contact Information:

Sarbinaz Bekmuratova, PhD. MS


Arduizur Carli Richie-Zavaleta, DrPH, MASP, MAIPS