Dear Director-General Dr. Tedros

Dear Dr. TedrosDear Director-General Dr. Tedros,

September 6, 2017
Congratulations on your appointment as the new WHO Director-General. We recognize the mighty responsibility of your office, with its tremendous potential for bringing better health to the world’s people – and above all, to the poor, marginalized, and discriminated against, to whom you have long voiced your commitment. We were heartened to hear you state so powerfully upon your appointment that WHO must “put the right to health at the core of its functions, and be the global vanguard to champion them.”

One powerful tool to do just that is a proposed Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), which would be a global treaty based on the right to health and aimed at national and global health equity. It could help put the right to health not only at the core of WHO’s functions, but also at the core of the global policy agenda, with WHO in the lead. The treaty would contribute to priorities that you have articulated in your vision for WHO, including universal health coverage, the rights of women and other marginalized populations, the Sustainable Development Goals, and health emergencies, along with a reinvigorated WHO (please see the Annex).

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Towards a Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH)

Towards our right to healthTowards a Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH)

by Lawrence Gostin, Eric Friedman, Kent Buse, Attiya Waris, Moses Mulumba, Mayowa Joel, Lola Dare, Ames Dhaig & Devi Sridhar

Introduction
What will it take to eliminate the gross health inequities that continue to plague the world, the unconscionable health gaps between the rich and poor? The eyes of the global health community are focused on the post-2015 sustainable development goals, with the World Health Organization (WHO) advocating for universal health coverage. Adding healthy life expectancy as an overarching goal would capture the broader determinants of health and offer a richer integration of multiple sectors.1 Beyond improving health, the United Nations (UN) should focus on equity, human rights, inclusive participation and accountability.2  The stage is set for the post-2015 agenda to embrace global health with justice – improving healthy lives for everyone, with particular attention to marginalized communities.

The sustainable development agenda, however, cannot achieve global health with justice without robust global governance. We urge adoption of a legally binding global health treaty – a framework convention on global health grounded in the right to health. What are the purposes and content of a framework convention and how can such a treaty help to achieve global health with justice? And what steps need to be taken to galvanize support for its adoption and implementation? This perspectives paper seeks to spark international dialogue on a framework convention on global health and to explore the pathways to- wards a global health treaty.

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A Framework Convention on Global Health: A Catalyst for Justice

Catalyst fo justiceA Framework Convention on Global Health: a catalyst for justice

by Michel Sidibé & Kent Buse

Growing inequalities in wealth, gender and disability, as well as in other areas, constitute a grave and unconscionable affront to our common humanity. A mere decade ago, people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection were suffering the consequences of gross inequity. Treatment was becoming widespread in developed countries, but in the hardest hit, developing country communities, demands for treatment were met with derision and condescension. Africans, they told us, could barely tell time, let alone adhere to complex regimens. Today, more than 6 million Africans receive treatment for HIV infection and acquired immunodefficiency syndrome (AIDS) and global health leaders have begun to look forward to something formerly unimaginable: an AIDS-free generation.1

An unprecedented bottom-up social movement has made this possible.2  Arguing for the human right to health, advocates for patient rights and other advocacy groups campaigned for universal access to treatment, prevention, care and support for people living with HIV. The first high-level United Nations health summit, held in 2001, was devoted to AIDS,3 and successive high-level meetings on HIV/AIDS in 2006 and 2011 have produced political declarations – a form of soft law – setting out ambitious goals.4 Civil society continues to hold world leaders to account, and in 2012 186 countries have reported on progress towards attaining these goals. Such is the power of political mobilization.

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