“Health and Human Rights: A global prospective”
Mohammad Akhter, MD
Chairman of the Executive Board of DC Health Exchange Authority
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
5:30 – 7:20pm
Room 355, Jennings Hall
1735 Neil Ave.
The belief that everyone, by virtue of her or his humanity, is entitled to certain human rights is fairly new. Its roots, however, lie in the earlier traditions and literature of many cultures. It took the catalyst of World War II to propel human rights onto the global stage and into the global conscience. As a result, member states of the United Nations pledged to promote respect for the human rights of all. To advance this goal, the UN established a Commission on Human Rights and charged it with the task of drafting a document spelling out the meaning of the fundamental rights and freedoms proclaimed in its Charter. The Commission, guided by Eleanor Roosevelt’s forceful leadership, captured the world’s attention.
On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the 56 members of the United Nations. Its Preamble eloquently asserts that recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.
The Almaty Declaration (“Health for All”) is an expression of health as a human right. In this context, we in public health see both society and disease as dynamic and inextricably linked. Thus, to respond effectively to disease requires societal action. The “new” public health recognizes that the positive impact of traditional public health will be inherently limited and inadequate without a commitment to changing societal conditions that constrain health and create vulnerability to preventable disease, disability and premature death.
We will discuss examples from different countries to demonstrate the value of this approach in this session.