Health and Human Rights

Health and human rights

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Unformatted text preview: I P ART I Human Rights and Public Health In exploring the connection between health and human rights, we propose three relationships, each of which focuses on an important aspect of this critical linkage. These relationships are outlined in broad terms in the first article in this section, "Health and Human Rights," the inaugural article of the journal Health and Human Rights. This article provides a framework and basis for considering the health and human rights nexus explored throughout this reader. > HR The first relationship, which can be diagrammed simply as H concerns the potential impacts of health policies, programs, and practices on human rights. As described in Part 1 , recognition of the complementarity of 1 public health goals and human rights norms can lead to more effective health policies and programs. The challenge is to negotiate the optimal balance between promoting and protecting public health and promoting and protecting human rights. The second relationship, which can be diagrammed equally simply as H< HR, expresses the idea that violations or lack of fulfillment of any and all human rights have negative effects on physical, mental, and social well-being (health). This is true in peacetime and, of course, in times of conflict and extreme political repression. The articles in Part I11 explore this relationship. HR, conThe third relationship, which can be diagrammed as H <-> veys the idea of inextricable connection. The central idea of the health and human rights movement is that health and human rights act in synergy. Promoting and protecting health requires explicit and concrete efforts to promote and protect human rights and dignity, and greater fulfillment of human rights necessitates sound attention to health and to its societal determinants. PART1: HUMAN IGHTSAND PUBLIC EALTH R H As an entry to the world of health and human rights thinking and action, the chapters in this section also include a primer on public health and one on human rights. These chapters are drawn from a manual intended for use by people in the fields of public health and human rights in order to provide agfficient knowledge of each field to facilitate a practical working relation; ?shipbetween them. Since this reader is intended for people interested in one or both of these domains, we hope that even those already familiar with either public health or human rights will read these introductory chapters, which set the stage for consideration of the complex and fascinating health and human rights paradigm. Health and Human Rights Jonathan M. Mann, Lawrence Gostin, Sofia Gruskin, Troyen Brennan, Zita Lauarini, and Harvey Fineberg 1 . Health and human rights have rarely been linked in an explicit mannel: With few exceptions, notably involving access to health care, discussions about health have not included human rights considerations. Similarly, except when obvious damage to health is the primary manifestation of a human rights abuse, such as with torture, health perspectives have' been generally absent from human rights discourse. Explanations for the dearth of communication between the fields of health and human rights include differing philosophical perspectives, vocabularies, professional recruitment and training, societal roles, and methods of .work. In addition, modern concepts of both health and human rights are complex and steadily evolving. On a practical level, health workers may wonder about the applicability or utility ("added valuey'),let alone necessity, of incorporating human rights perspectives into their work, and vice versa. In addition, despite pioneering work seeking to bridge tlus gap in bioethics,l jurisprudence,2 and public health law,3 a history of conflictaal relationships between medicine and law, or between public health officials and civil liberties advocates, may contribute to anxiety and doubt about the potential for mutually beneficial collaboration. Yet health and human rights are both powerful, modern approaches to defining and advancing human well-being. Attention to the i nterse~tion of health and human rights may provide practical benefits to those engaged in health or human rights work, may help reorient thinking about major global health challenges, and may contribute to broadening human rights thinking and practice. However, meaningful dialogue about interactions between health and human rights requires a common ground. To this end, following a brief overview of selected features of modern health and human rights, this chapter proposes a provisional, mutually accessible framework for Mann e t al. Health and Human Rights structuring discussions about research, promoting cross-disciplinary education, and exploring the potential for health and human rights collaboration. MODERN CONCEPTS OF HEALTH Modern concepts of health derive from two related although quite different disciplines: medicine and public health. While medicine generally focuses on the health of an individual, public health emphasizes the he...
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