This should go without saying, but it is always nice when a respected, high-impact journal reminds us that health should be a central consideration in every human rights discussion and “necessary component of resilient human security.” In its most recent issue, British health journal Lancet published an editorial on HRW’s World Report 2015, lauding it for drawing attention to health-related human rights failures around the world while expressing disappointment that it “did not identify health as a core element in its analysis”:
In his opening essay, HRW’s Executive Director, Kenneth Roth, writes, “The world has not seen this much tumult in a generation…it can seem as if the world is unravelling”. Indeed, this 656-page report is a grim read in a year marked by extensive conflict and extreme violence. But when one delves deeper, there is a hidden story that often does not make the headlines. That story is the health dimension of human rights. Viewed through the lens of health, the report contains several compelling and disturbing themes.
The editorial noted numerous examples in the report of attacks on healthcare facilities, both in conflict zones and in the areas of West Africa struck by the Ebola outbreak, as well as spotlights on gender-based violence, a dearth of mental health services, targeted killings and persecution of health workers, and inadequate access to palliative care. While the report contains valuable analysis, the editorial contends that it does not go far enough in incorporating health as a human rights foundation:
This latest HRW report is an important call to arms to protect health as a fundamental human right. It is a pity that HRW did not identify health as a core element in its analysis, not only as part of a comprehensive package of human rights protections but also as a necessary component of resilient human security. Their analysis should prompt all governments and international health organisations to reflect carefully on their actions to make health a core responsibility and right of all citizens.
Note: This was cross-posted to my own professional blog.