Health and Human Rights

Awareness Raising & Capacity Building at Regional & National Levels

Work focuses on analysing and disseminating good practices; identifying core human rights dimensions absent from existing health development frameworks as well as strengthening existing ones, such as poverty reduction strategies, from a health and human rights perspective; and building capacity among relevant institutions and organizations to integrate and apply human rights norms and standards in the development and analysis of health policies and systems.

Regional

WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO)

Alumni workshop for Africa

On April 23 and 24, 2009, InWEnt Capacity Building, Germany, and the World Health Organization jointly organized a Regional Workshop of Alumni of the Health and Human Rights-Dimensions and Strategies E-learning course in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

WHO Europe Regional Office (EURO)

On May 25, 2010, the WHO/EURO office launched a new website on health topics, health systems, governance, human rights and activities in the Region.

Workshop in the Republic of Uzbekistan

Together with the Ombudsperson's Office of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the WHO office in Uzbekistan organized a Workshop on Health and Human Rights, November 20-21, 2008 in Tashkent. The Workshop was also supported by the Ministry of Health and European Union’s liaison office. About 50 participants attended, including members of parliament, government ministries, regional public health services, UN agencies and civil society.

WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO)

Regional Workshop on Health and Human Rights, WHO, Cairo
A regional workshop was held by the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean in Cairo (EMRO), Egypt , 21-23 September, 2010, and was attended by international, regional and national experts in the field. The workshop was opened by Dr Hussein A. Gezairy, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, who outlined the three key strategic areas for the workshop: the rights of persons with mental and physical disabilities; new opportunities for the health sector in the health and human rights arena; and how to move forward to effectively position health as a human right at the regional level. The workshop was interactive and based on country experiences. It served to identify practical methods, strategies and actions to effectively implement the CRPD at national level as well as to integrate the right to health into national health policies and agendas.

Workshop in the Kingdom of Bahrain

On 13 -14 May 2009, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Bahrain, in collaboration with UNDP and the World Health Organization, held a two-day training on health and human rights.

Fatenah: New documentary: WHO West Bank and Gaza and Physicians for Human Rights documented "Fatenah" a film based on a true story. "Fatenah" is a short animation on the right to health for patients in Gaza that WHO supported and sponsored. This is the first Palestinian produced animation. The three-part video can be seen here.

WHO Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

Learning Session: Looking at PAHO Strategic Plan 2008-2012 from a human rights perspective
On 5 March, 2008, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) organised a learning session for all staff, providing a human rights analysis of the PAHO Strategic Plan 2008-2012. Professor Paul Hunt, UN Special Rapporteur on "the right to health" made a presentation on the linkages between health and human rights and shared experiences on how human rights can reinforce public health in the context of the PAHO Strategic Plan 2008-2012. The session was chaired by Dr Claudio Grossman, Vice-President of the UN Committee against Torture, and the PAHO Director made a video-announcement.

WHO South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO)

Training Workshop on Health and Human Rights, WHO, Maldives
On 29 and 30 January, 2011 a Health and Human Rights Training Workshop was jointly organized by the WHO Country Office and the Ministry of Health and Family. Dr Aminath Jameel, the Honourable Minister of Health and Family, opened the event stating that Maldives is party to all the major international human rights treaties, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. She also highlighted the relevant provisions of the new Constitution of 2008, which guarantees the right to health for all Maldivians. This Constitution provides the opportunity to translate these important commitments into practice through laws and policies, to improve the lives of the Maldivian population. She urged that particular attention be paid to vulnerable population groups such as the elderly, children and women. The workshop was run by Ms Helena Nygren-Krug, Health and Human Rights Adviser, WHO/Headquarters with the assistance of Ms Aminath Shenalin, NPO, WHO/Maldives, and was attended by approximately 45 officials from the Ministry of Health and Family, Ministry of Education, UN agencies, Maldives Medical and Nurses Councils, Maldives Board of Health Sciences, Medical Associations, NGOs and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives. Participants engaged actively and shared their experiences and highlighted challenges such as access to affordable health care, particular problems facing the elderly, people with mental and physical disabilities, undocumented migrants, drug users and other vulnerable groups, and how to ensure that health-care providers also have their own human rights protected. Violence against women which has serious mental and physical health consequences was also discussed. Participants explained how to ensure that affected groups enjoy the right to participate in decision-making when it concerns their health. The right to equality and non-discrimination is another important human rights dimension to address. It was also suggested that health policies and programmes can play a vital role in promoting human rights. Finally, participants explored ways of ensuring accountability for human rights in health service delivery.

Hon Minister of Health & Family, (Ms) Dr Aminath Jameel with the President of the Maldives Human Rights Commission (MHRC)

Maldives raises awareness of the Right to Health! The Ministry of Health and Family, the Maldives Human Rights Commission, WHO and other UN organizations have been working together to promote health-related human rights in the Maldives. Recently, for example, they conducted a human rights assessment of the Maldivian health sector. To raise awareness of the Right to Health among the people of the Maldives, the Maldives WHO Country Office added a local adaptation of the slogan “Health, My Right” in Divehi language to the front of the T-shirts; the slogan in the 6 UN official languages is on the back of the T-shirts. Pictured here are the Hon. Minister of Health and Family, (Ms) Dr Aminath Jameel with Mr Ahmed Saleem, President of the Maldives Human Rights Commission (MHRC). (Copyright:Ministry of Health and Family, Maldives, April 2010).


SEARO Newsletter : The February 2007 issue of Environmental Update - a newsletter of the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia - focuses on Health and Human Rights.

WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO) supports human rights orientation workshop in the Maldives

An orientation workshop for the newly appointed members of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives was organized by UNDP Maldives in Male from 3-6 December 2006. The workshop was conducted to orient new members of the Commission on their roles and responsibilities with particular focus on thematic areas like gender and children's rights, health and environment. Mr Samuli Seppanen from the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO) participated as the WHO facilitator for the session on health and human rights. The Human Rights Commission will later determine whether and how to proceed with measures to apply a rights-based approach to national public health matters.

Workshop on Human Rights, Health and Poverty Reduction Strategies, Nairobi, Kenya, 27-29 June, 2006

The WHO and German co-operation organized a Regional Workshop in Africa on Human Rights, Health and Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs). 40 participants from ministries of health, WHO (AFRO and 5 WHO country offices were represented, including 4 WRs), 4 national human rights commissions, civil society groups and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. A full copy of the agenda and presentations can be found at the web portal set up for the meeting.

Intercountry Meeting of the Eastern Mediterranean Region

An intercountry meeting on Health and Human Rights was held in Cairo from 12-14 July, 2005. WHO EMRO held an intercountry meeting on health and human rights with a number of international, regional and national experts in this area with ten of its Member States to activate the relation between the two areas at both regional and national levels.

National

Botswana

Botswana launched "HIV/AIDS Stand Up for Human Rights" cartoon booklet

The cartoon HIV/AIDS:Stand up for Human Rights, which was developed by WHO, together with the OHCHR & UNAIDS, was officially launched in Botswana on 29 October, 2005. Following presentations by key personalities, including Dr Kalilani, WR Botswana, the Vice President of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, 13 year old Tlotlo Otsile from the BFA expressed his motivation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, particularly for people living with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS. He urged that the cartoon be shared with family and friends. The launch was followed by a series of football matches.

Training workshop on Health and Human Rights

On March 25, 2004, a Health & Human Rights Training Workshop was organized by the WHO Representative in Botswana, Gaborone. The workshop involved officials from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Attorney-General's Office, UN agencies and media representatives. On 26 March, WHO's health and human rights materials- "25 Questions and Answers on Heath & Human Rights" and "The Right to Health" cartoon- were launched in Botswana. The panel comprised of the Minister of Health (Mrs Lesego Motsumi), the Deputy Minister of Education (Mr Duke Lefhoko), the WR, a UNICEF representative and WHO's Health and Human Rights Adviser. School children provided entertainment in between the speeches by doing traditional dances and reading out some of the key messages of the cartoon directly addressing the two Ministers present. The messages included the right to be free from HIV-related stigma and discrimination, the right to equality between girls and boys in education and access to health services, and the rights of rich and poor to access basic health services on an equal basis. The right to health cartoon will be used in schools for children aged 6-12 to educate them about health and human rights in Botswana and 25 Questions and Answers on Heath & Human Rights will be used by teachers as well as students over 12 years to deepen understanding about health and human rights.

Ghana

Support on a human rights-based approach to the CCS

WHO HQ and WHO's Ghana office participated in a week of orientation, training and technical assistance for the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) of Ghana on the human right based approach (HRBA) to the Common Country Assessment (CCA). This consisted of: a briefing/orientation on May 11 2004 with UN Heads of Agencies in Ghana on an HRBA to UN Programming; a one day workshop on May 12 2004 on an HRBA to development for key staff of the UN agencies followed by a consultation on the Common Country Assessment (CCA) on May 13-14 2004. WHO's Ghana office is leading the theme group meeting on health for the CCA.

Iraq

Workshop on Health and Human Rights, Amman, Jordan

From 16-19 November, 2009, WHO-Iraq, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Human Rights of Iraq, organized a Workshop on Health and Human Rights in Amman, Jordan. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also collaborated in the Workshop. Representatives from different ministries (health, human rights, women's affairs, planning, education) attended along with parliamentarians and NGOs. The Workshop raised awareness of health and human rights in relation to the challenges facing Iraq and concluded with some concrete recommendations for future action.

Workshop on health and human rights

A workshop on health and human rights was held by WHO Iraq Office, 24-26 February 2005, in Amman, Jordan, convening participants from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of Higher Education Iraq. This is the first country-level, multi-sectoral workshop held by WHO on this issue in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The workshop, which was funded by the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund was opened by the Minister of Health and attended by representatives from the Ministry of Human Rights, the Embassy of Iraq and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The workshop aimed to build the capacity of professionals in Iraq on health and human rights, by understanding the linkages between health and human rights and the national, regional and international frameworks on the right to health. It also aimed to facilitate partnerships and collaboration between the ministry of health and other relevant ministries in the government to work on health and human rights issues. Experts from Jordan and Iraq as well as from WHO Country Offices (Iraq and Yemen), the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and WHO Headquarters made interventions. The WHO health and human rights publication, "25 Questions and Answers on Health and Human Rights" (Arabic version) was frequently referred to in the group exercises, discussions and interventions as a base for the conceptual framework on health and human rights. Participants engaged actively in discussions and developed a strategy and a plan of action. As a follow up to the workshops, WHO will liaise with the various ministries and other UN agencies.

Mongolia

Training workshops on health and human rights

To take forward activities relating to health and human rights in Mongolia, on 29 January 2004, a training workshop on Health and Human rights was held in the UN House in Ulaanbataar. Participants from UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, the Mongolian Ministry of Health and the Mongolian Directorate of Medical Services, the National Human Rights Commission, and non-governmental organizations attended. Issues discussed included international human rights in relation to health, rights-based approaches to health and national mechanisms for implementing the right to health in Mongolia. Challenges specific to Mongolia were highlighted , including access to health care among vulnerable population groups, such as herders, which are geographically inaccessible; difficulty in obtaining admission to hospitals; lack of training and equipment among medical personnel; and registration of, and thereby access to health services, for such groups as street children and recent rural migrants to Ulaanbataar.

On 27-28 November 2008, the Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO) and WHO's Mongolia Office organized a Health and Human Rights training course in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, for representatives from the WHO country office, the Ministry of Health, the Health Sciences University of Mongolia, UNFPA Mongolia and four of the referral Hospitals in Ulaanbaatar to build knowledge and awareness of the linkages between health and human rights and the different mechanisms for their protection; the meaning of the right to health; how to operationalize a human rights based approach to health; the mandate and work of the WHO in health and human rights; and key challenges for the realization of the right to health in Mongolia.

Mozambique

Launch of HIV/AIDS cartoon in Mozambique

On April 9, 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the National Aids Council in Mozambique launched the Portuguese version of the cartoon "HIV/AIDS: Stand Up for Human Rights". Mozambique is the first Portuguese-speaking country to launch this cartoon which was developed by the WHO together with the Joint United Nations Programme of HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the OHCHR (the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights). FIFA (the International Federation of Football Associations) sponsored the printing of the cartoon. The cartoon aims to increase awareness and knowledge on HIV/AIDS as well as mobilize youth to stand up for human rights in addressing HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. The launch which was held in Maputo was attended by government officials, parliamentarians, UN agencies, the media and non-governmental organizations.

Nepal

Indoor Air Pollution (IAP) is a severe human rights concern in developing countries, and it has significant negative socio-economic and health impacts in Nepal as well. To address the problem, WHO, Indoor Air Pollution and Health Forum Nepal, and Practical Action Nepal, organized a national workshop on "Clean Indoor Air : The Right to a Healthy Life" in Katmandu, Nepal, on 10 & 11 February, 2008.

Uganda

Mainstreaming Human rights in Uganda

The WHO Country Office in Uganda has been working on applying a human rights-based approach to a number of policies and programme areas. In 2010, WHO Uganda supported the mainstreaming of human rights into the overarching policy and strategic framework governing the health sector in Uganda as part of the revision of the country's National Health Policy (NHP) and the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP). Based on the WHO tool on "Human Rights and Gender Equality in Health Sector Strategies: How to assess policy coherence" the Ministry of Health conducted a review of both draft strategies with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The review posed critical questions, provided references to relevant international and regional human rights obligations and standards, and suggested revised text in an effort to promote the integration of human rights and gender equality standards and principles in Uganda's health policies, plans and interventions. Moreover, recommendations from the Review underlined the importance of mainstreaming the principles of non-discrimination, participation, transparency and accountability, establishing redress mechanisms, building the capacity among health workers on human rights and gender equality, enhancing the availability of disaggregated data and health indicators, and respecting the rights of vulnerable groups, including minorities and persons with disabilities.

Fact sheet on Health and Human Rights in Uganda

Together with the Ministry of Health of Uganda, the WHO Country Office has issued a fact sheet on Health and Human Rights in Uganda. The fact sheet provides an overview of Uganda's commitment to the right to health, the integration of human rights in health policies and plans, and capacity building efforts at national level. Since 2005, the WHO Country Office has initiated and supported various activities promoting a human rights-based approach to health. WHO will continue working with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to ensure attention to human rights in the design and implementation of health policies and programmes.

Mission of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health ("the right to health")

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Professor Paul Hunt, visited Uganda from 4-9 February, 2007. This visit was organized and facilitated by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the World Health Organization (WHO). During this visit, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with WHO, OHCHR and Embassy of Sweden/Sida organized a one-day meeting to review the Health Sector Strategic Plan from a human rights perspective, as well as progress of the recommendations from the Special Rapporteur’s 2005 mission on neglected diseases.

Health and Human Rights Capacity Building Workshop

On 18-19 May 2006 the Ministry of Health (MOH) together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) organised a Health and Human Rights Capacity Building Workshop in Kampala, Uganda. The overall objective of the workshop was to explain the linkages between health and human rights and explore how human rights can be used as a tool for analysis, implementation and monitoring of the Health Sector Strategic Plan II 2005/06- 2009/10.

Article on health and human rights in Uganda
Uganda launches the cartoon booklet "HIV/AIDS Stand up for Human Rights"

The cartoon booklet "HIV/AIDS Stand up for Human Rights" was launched in Uganda on 26 June 2005 during a football tournament involving the five leading (in football) secondary schools. Chief guests included Mr Paul Kagwa, Assistant Commissioner Health Education and Promotion, representing the Minister of Health, and the WHO Representative ai, Dr Rosamund Lewis. The cartoon aims to raise awareness of the key linkages between HIV/AIDS and human rights, to combat the myths and taboos associated with HIV/AIDS, and help empower young people to promote human rights in relation to HIV/AIDS.

Viet Nam

Technical Officer Working on Health and Human Rights

Since December 2005, the WHO Country Office in Vietnam has a technical officer working on health and human rights, with particular attention to gender equality and domestic violence issues. The position is supported by the Government of Belgium. The technical officer is supporting WHO in building its capacity to integrate a human rights-based approach to health and liaising with government counterparts on health-related human rights issues, such as domestic violence and HIV/AIDS. WHO is also collaborating with other UN agencies under a Joint Programme on Gender Equality to build the capacity of national and provincial duty-bearers in view of a better implementation of the new Law on Gender Equality and future Law on Domestic Violence Prevention, as well as under the Action 2 Programme to build the capacity of the UN Country Team and to support future human rights dialogue with the Government of Viet Nam.

Yemen

A Needs Assessment Study of Girls Right to Health in Yemen: This needs assessment of girls was conducted in three governates one urban and two rural areas and was supported by WHO financially and technically. It comprised both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to assess the realization of the right to health and other health-related human rights such as freedom from discrimination and access to health information and education.

Capacity Building Workshops: March 1-3 2003 WHO participated in organizing a workshop on human rights in development in Sana’a, Yemen with 40 participants from government agencies, NGOs, INGOs and parliaments. The overall goals of the workshop was capacity building of the key stakeholders on human rights and a human rights-based approach to development as well as to establish an alliance and mutual support among stakeholders for an effective coordination to promote, protect, respect and fulfil human rights in Yemen. The preliminary results of the needs assessment were discussed.

December 10-20 2003, the first training course for trainers in human rights was convened at the Ministry for Human Rights, Sana’a, Yemen. The main purpose of this 10 day training was to build the capacity of the technical team members: 1) to address human rights issues in their respective ministries and to act as human rights focal points in their ministries; 2) to support the Ministry of Human Rights in the human rights mainstreaming process, 3) to share information with co-workers, 4) to identify priorities and ways forward for advancing health and human rights issues in Yemen. The training covered human rights in development with a particular focus on health and human rights. Several possible activities were raised in the workshop such as further training and awareness-raising through the media at the local levels as well as specific projects such as reviewing laws, policies and practices in light of possible discriminatory affects against specific population groups including women, people living with disabilities and HIV/AIDS.

Zambia

WHO, in collaboration with the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), officially launched the cartoon booklet "HIV/AIDS Stand Up for Human Rights" in Lusaka, Zambia, on 6 November 2005. The launch took place at a league game between Nkwazi and Lusaka Dynamos at the Imboela stadium. The Minister of Sport, Youth and Child Development, Hon. George Chulumanda, MP, gave a statement and officially launched the booklet in the presence of the FAZ President, Mr Teddy Mulonga, the WHO Representative, Dr Stella Anyangwe, partners and stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and Lusaka residents who had turned up to watch the football match and to witness the launch of the booklet. Dr Anyangwe also made a statement at the event. The booklet was distributed to schools, community based sports organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the FAZ clubs throughout the country.

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