Values, Policies and Rights

Contributing to social and economic development
WHO EB and Government of Finland: WHO Executive Board EB134/1 January 2014 Add.1 134th session 13 December 2013

The WHO Executive Board meeting in Geneva in Jan 2014 will consider a proposal from Finland (see EB134/1 Add.1) entitled: “Contributing to social and economic development: sustainable action across sectors to improve health and health equity” which is a follow up from the 8th Global Health Promotion Conference in Helsinki in June 2013. Finland has requested the inclusion of a new agenda item for the 134th session
of the Executive Board. It will provide an opportunity for the Board to have a debate, adopt a recommendation for an Assembly resolution calling for concrete steps forward, carried out within existing resources, and expressing the importance of actions across sectors for health and health equity in the final efforts to achieve the MDGs and in the debate on the post-2015 development agenda.

Controversial policy to regulate doctors on hold
Gonzalez L: Health-e News, 31 July 2014.

In late May, President Jacob Zuma South Africa signed into law long-dormant sections of the National Health Act that would give the Director General of Health the power to deny doctors operating licenses depending on where in the country the medical professional wished to operate, or open or expand a practice. Following this, doctors would have had to apply to the Department of Health for a “certificate of need,” or permission to work in an area, by 1 April 2016. SAMA, the South African Dental Association, and the specialist body, the South African Private Practitioners Forum have all vocally opposed Certificates of Need and were considering Constitutional Court litigation against the department over the matter. The Department of Health has, however, decided to shelve plans to regulate where doctors could practice – at least temporarily. Department of Health spokesperson Joe Maila stated that the intention is not to redraft the Act but to allow parties sufficient time to draft and engage with regulations before the act takes effect.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Human Rights Education Associates, 3 May 2008

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/611 in 2006 and entered into force on 3 May 2008. The purpose of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Corporate think-tanks, free market ideology and the attack on the right to health
London L and Reynolds L: Critical Health Perspectives 2(2):1-3, October 2010

According to this article, one aspect of the efforts of global capital to shape health policy in developing countries is the practice of so-called ‘independent’ think tanks, which seek to put into the public domain seemingly dispassionate opinion pieces on public policy, but which are openly oriented to promoting free market policy at the expense of public benefit. These think tanks propose that only free market liberalisation can solve problems related to food security, housing and health, but offer limited empirical evidence for this. The role of large corporate funding in their work is obscured. The article presents one example, the London-based International Policy Network, which is argued to promote private healthcare by arguing that human rights are not indivisible and inalienable, and by dismissing the validity of social and economic rights, particularly the right to health.

Court petitioned over maternal deaths
Okanya A: New Vision, 8 March 2011

A Ugandan health lobby group, the Centre for Health Human Rights and Development, has petitioned the Constitutional Court over the alarming number of maternal deaths in government health facilities - currently, Uganda has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. The group is arguing that government neglect is responsible, manifested in the ‘careless manner’ in which government hospital staff handle expectant mothers before, during and after birth. They are hoping the Constitutional Court will declare that it is a violation of the right to health when health workers and government fail to take required essential care during pre- and post-natal stages. The petitioners also want financial compensation from government for the affected families.

Creating a supportive legal environment for universal health coverage
Clarke D; Rajana D; Schmets G: Bulletin of the World Health Organization 94(7), 481-556, 2016

The authors note a proposal for the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide capacity-building for drafting health laws in Member States. They highlight that WHO has the authority and credibility to work with countries to make their national laws easier to access and understand, and to monitor and evaluate their implementation. WHO’s new technical support work related to universal health coverage (UHC) laws is observed as one example of its support for Member States in this important area. Strengthening countries’ legal and regulatory frameworks and engaging in universal health coverage-compliant law reforms has been missing from the universal health coverage agenda. WHO calls on Member States to align their health system policies with universal health coverage goals such as equity, efficiency, health service quality and financial risk protection. Strengthening health systems using health laws and legal frameworks is a pivotal means for attaining these goals and achieving sustainable results in health security and resilience.

CSO statement for the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Forum in Tokyo - Japan
Civil society organisations: Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Forum, Japan, December 2017

In this statement civil society organisations call for a change to the business-as-usual approach to achieving UHC and raise following principles that need greater emphasis in national and global efforts: Health is a human right and the achievement of UHC should ensure that no one is left behind; Out-of-pocket payments should be progressively abolished and public financing for health should be significantly increased; and good governance, robust transparency, and sound accountability must be ensured.

Dakar 2011: the 11th edition of the World Social Forum is developing an “African Consensus”
Afrique Avenir from Development February 17th, 2011

As part of the 11th edition of the World Social Forum (WSF) in Dakar, African civil society presented the draft of an African Consensus, to spur endogenous development of the continent. The WSF is an initiative of civil society and a democratic meeting place that aims to stimulate debate and deepen the collective thinking. This is a space where all types of social movements come to discuss world problems in a democratic way. Members of the International Committee of the Forum discussed the prospects for social movements to make proposals and alternatives to "a neoliberal system that is currently going through deep crisis". Inspired by that of the Himalayas, an innovative approach to development, the "African Consensus" refers to the implementation of economic platforms and autonomous enterprises programmes based on local realities, through skills transfer that give a sense of responsibility. Unlike the "Washington Consensus", which enhances the immediate liberalization of markets, privatization of enterprises, the elimination of subsidies, the "African Consensus" is based on the fact that Africa is not poor, but that it enjoys great wealth and the mosaic of cultures and ethnicity.

De-drug RSA and save the economy … why not?
Schorr D: Pambazuka News, April 2018

South Africa’s GDP is reported to have risen from US $3445 in 1994 to US $5284 in 2016, but far from ushering in overall improvement in health or well-being, the author notes that rising white collar crime, violence, small business failure , un- and underemployment and the flight of skills signpost an unhappy place. He notes that South Africa “… had the highest number of drunk driving incidents at 58 percent” in the world …”. Alcohol is said to account for 40 percent of violent crime. The author calls more regulations to ensure that alcohol companies pays for the consequences that come with heavy drinking in the country.

Debate and action about the social determinants of health: The position of the civil society movements
ALAMES, Cebes, Cut et al: October 2011

According to this statement by Latin American social medicine and civil society organisations at the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, the fundamental cause of the inequalities within and between nations is the neoliberal economy, infused with an exclusively speculative desire for unlimited profit. Capitalism grabs profits and socialises losses, they argue, resorting to new and crueler neoliberal measures that further reduce the fundamental social rights of people. There are abundant resources for all of us on the earth, but the ‘logic’ of the market prevents people from obtaining what they need. In the area of public health, neoliberalism translates into the commercialisation of life, legal protections for intellectual property for the benefit of the medical industrial complex, control of the media in order to create ‘need’ through shock, damage to public health systems, manipulation of civil society, multiple forms of violence and other strategies to colonise the ‘collective thought’. The current dominant societal model, using the lifestyle of affluent Americans as a basis, they argue is not sustainable. The statement concludes with a call for the establishment of global alliances between progressive governments and social movements, and meaningful social participation, as well as support for the creation and consolidation of health systems and social security systems that are universal, free, integral, and public, with coverage for all people for all services.