A vote for the World’s health, absent from the headlines

Vote FCGHA vote for the world’s health, absent from the headlines

10 November 2016

The World Health Organization process of selecting a new director-general moves into high gear this week. As the U.S. presidential election has held global attention for much of 2016, this is likely the most important vote the world isn’t watching. We cannot afford to ignore the WHO leadership choice, which comes in the midst of a global health crisis.

That crisis is the ongoing epidemic of health inequalities. It is an emergency that lurks beneath the headlines, existing instead in the daily realities of vast portions of the world’s population. We come from two countries, South Africa and Bangladesh, where our governments and civil society are making tremendous efforts to improve the health of our people. We have seen important strides, including scaling up HIV/AIDS treatment in South Africa and unprecedented progress in child and maternal health in Bangladesh.

Yet we continue to see snapshots of huge global inequalities of health on a regular basis. In a sprawling township outside Cape Town, many residents live in wood, tin, and plastic shacks, with toilets far and few between. The latrines are often unusable and, even when functioning, unsafe for women and children to access. In isolated parts of Bangladesh, meanwhile, it is still not unusual for a woman to give birth on the dirt floor of her own home without any trained personnel present.

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10 Ways the FCGH Could Advance the Right to Health

Right to health10 Ways the FCGH Could Advance the Right to Health

I believe that we need the FCGH to help make the right to health real for the large portions of the world’s population who live — and die — amid conditions, systems, policies, and practices that give them little chance of enjoying the “highest achievable standard of physical and mental health” to which all people are entitled. How will a new treaty, the FCGH, help, when the right to health is already a binding obligation for all countries? Here are ten reasons that new, more precise, binding international law on the right to health could make a difference.

1. Increasing accountability for the right to health, including by requiring states to develop strategies and mechanisms that would enhance accountability at the domestic level and opening up additional possibilities for international accountability mechanisms (more here). The treaty could also help ensure that courts recognize the justicability of the right to health, including the specific requirements in the FCGH.

2. Empowering civil society and communities by mandating inclusive participatory processes at all stages of health-related policy making, providing for right to health education, and providing additional tools — such as the binding nature of FCGH requirements and the treaty’s specific strategies and monitoring, reporting, and other enforcement mechanisms — to enhance community and civil society advocacy.

3. Clarifying through progressive interpretations presently binding yet ambiguous standards for the right to health and other economic social, and cultural rights (such as on progressive realization and the maximum available resources). This should improve implementation of and enhance accountability to these standards.

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Turning the Right to Health into Reality

Alliance is bornThe Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH) Alliance: Turning the Right to Health into the Lived Reality for Everyone

December 10, 2017
Today, Human Rights Day, witnessed the birth of a new organization committed to using the law to turn the right to health into the lived reality for all people, everywhere: The Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH) Alliance.

The FCGH Alliance formalizes and creates new potential for an existing network of organizations and individuals already advocating for the FCGH and holds the promise of engaging many more in the pursuit of the FCGH.

The FCGH Alliance, a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) that will operate as a global network, aims to secure the FCGH, a proposed global treaty based on human rights and aimed at national and global health equality that would respond to some of the most pressing problems of national and global health governance by increasing accountability, equity, participation, financing, and health in all policies at community, national, and global levels.

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