UN agency highlights links between health and human rights

24 July 2002

In a bid to help governments develop a human rights approach to public health work, a new publication by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) makes the case that protecting civil liberties can reduce vulnerability to and the affect of poor health.

The publication, 25 Questions and Answers on Health and Human Rights, is the first compilation of answers to key questions in an area that lately has received added focus and attention, reflecting the most current developments and trends in health and human rights.

The booklet discusses a number of issues related to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, such as access to medicines, the use of health status information and non-discrimination. It also covers protection of health care workers and facilities and access to medical care during conflicts, as well as the availability to all of the benefits of scientific progress and the obligation of States to assist those with fewer resources in tackling diseases of poverty.

"Linking health and human rights could act as a force for mobilizing and empowering the most vulnerable and disadvantaged," said Ms Helena Nygren-Krug, author of the publication and WHO's focal point for health and human rights. "Advancing health as a human right means making people conscious of both their oppression and the possibility of change."

 

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