A Framework Convention on Global Health: a catalyst for justice
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.