All Aboard’s Uphill Climb

Uphill Track towards our rightsPushing anything uphill requires more energy than just rolling it along flat ground or coasting down a slope. It’s in our textbook, Physics for Idiots.

The All Aboard research project on participation and representation in global health governance has been on an uphill stretch of track for the last two weeks, and we’ve now arrived at a very steep incline. A number of the collective that are conducting different elements of the research and preparing the paper have been hit by serious health problems at the same time, diminishing our capacity to keep on schedule. With the deadline for the paper’s completion and submission approaching, the track seems to have become more uphill and the load progressively heavier. It’s a strain on our push-power.

It’s time for a renewed collective push with a fresh burst of energy to help get All Aboard up and over the summit on the way to our destination. We’re almost there — one last blast of fuel is what is needed.

We are presently conducting interviews of ’key actors’ – the people who direct or run the UN agencies and programmes involved in global health and have experiences in its governance. These telephone interviews are an important part of the research, providing personal perspectives and views that help us to assess where the institutions are in regards to the participation of those affected most by health inequities.

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WHO Candidates’ Weak Words

Caution Weak WordsThe 1948 Constitution of the World Health Organization positions the WHO as the ‘guardian’ of everyone’s right to health, which makes the forthcoming election of its next Director General to be of great importance to those who strive for human rights and health justice. This is why we have been closely following the election process, and studying the final three Candidate’s positions. As the WHO process is nearing its conclusion, we are deeply dismayed by the weak words on rights and shallow slogans coming from the next Director General of WHO.

In a few weeks, a new Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) will be elected by the representatives of the 193 governments, known as Member States, that govern this UN agency. Although we believe that a human rights-based approach (HRBA) should be the framework of all of the World Health Organization (WHO) policies and programmes, many of the Member States do not share this view on rights. This may explain why after 70 years of the WHO’s mandate to progressively realize the right to health, it has failed to do so. It also may explain why the candidates will not risk losing the potential support of these regressive Member States by proposing real actions and reforms that would advance the right to health, including steps that would make the WHO more accountable to those they serve, the folks on the ground waiting for health justice.

Unfortunately, the billions of people that are most impacted by the policies of the WHO do not have any say in this election process. Only Member States have a vote on the candidates, as well as on every other aspect of WHO policies.

A key element of the human rights-based approach is the participation of affected communities and their civil society organizations in decisions on policies, which would enable the public to be more equal partners in public health development. The WHO is missing this crucial element, and after 70 years, must change.

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