Report urges government to realize human rights ‘to and through health’

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July 7, 2017
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Division of Disease Prevention, Policy and Global Health

A transformative report published May 22 by a United Nations-backed group will set the health and human rights agenda for women, children and adolescents over the next decade.

Working Group Co-Chair Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland, officially hands over the Working Group report to High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein and WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan. (Photo/Courtesy World Health Organization)
Working Group Co-Chair Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland, officially hands over the Working Group report to High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein and WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan. (Photo/Courtesy World Health Organization)

A transformative report published May 22 by a United Nations-backed group will set the health and human rights agenda for women, children and adolescents over the next decade.

Calling for bold leadership and action to realize rights “to health and through health,” the report was endorsed as a blueprint for action by World Health Organization and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Sofia Gruskin, JD, MIA, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, is one of five technical advisers to the high-level group consisting of global political leaders, including former presidents and prime ministers.

The report comes at a strategic moment, against a backdrop of mounting nationalism and human rights erosion — especially in regards to sexual and reproductive health and rights. It provides evidence of the health and social dividends societies reap when human rights are respected.

“Discrimination, abuse and violence against women, children and adolescents — the most widespread of human rights violations — erode physical and mental health, stealing the personal destinies of millions, and robbing the world of precious and needed talent, potential and contribution,” it states.

“The recommendations and guidelines we established in this report are monumental and game changing,” said Gruskin, also director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights at the USC Institute for Global Health. “It is now for the countries of the world to take on this agenda and for us all to support and monitor their efforts.”

A group of 10 USC students embedded as delegates to NCD Alliance members at the World Health Assembly witnessed the report’s launch during a week of meetings helmed by the WHO as member states solidified their annual health agenda.

USC students attend the assembly each year as part of the course, Global Health Governance & Diplomacy in Practice in Geneva.

— By Larissa Puro