Role of NGOs in promoting the right to health


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Role of NGOs in promoting the right to health

  1. 1. Role of NGOs in Promoting the Right to Health Amani Massoud The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  2. 2. “ There is no end which the human will despairs of attaining through the combined power of individuals united into a society.” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in American 1835
  3. 3. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights <ul><li>EIPR is an independent, not-for profit human rights organization that was established in 2002 to promote and defend the personal rights and freedoms of individuals. EIPR was established to complement the work of Egyptian human rights groups by adopting as its mandate, and focus of concern, a group of rights and freedoms that are closest to the human-being: his/her body, privacy and house. These rights often are ignored or overlooked. The organization uses r esearch , advocacy and strategic litigation to defend the rights to privacy, health, freedom of religion and belief and bodily integrity. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Civil Society <ul><li>“ the arena of uncoerced collective action around shared interests purposes and values. In theory, its institutional forms are distinct from those of the state, family and market, though in practice, the boundaries between state, civil society, family and market are often complex, blurred and negotiated. Civil society commonly embraces a diversity of spaces, actors and institutional forms, varying in their degree of formality, autonomy and power. Civil societies are often populated by organizations such as registered charities, development non-governmental organizations, community groups, women's organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, trades unions, self-help groups, social movements, business associations, coalitions and advocacy group.” </li></ul>
  5. 5. What are NGOs <ul><li>Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are those that exist outside the public governmental and private market sectors, within what is referred to as the third, voluntary, or non-profit sector </li></ul><ul><li>(Salamon and Anheier, 1997) </li></ul>
  6. 6. NGO Activism: The Role of NGOs in promoting human rights <ul><li>Article 71 of the UN Charter states that the Economic and Social Council must make suitable arrangements for consultations with NGOs which are concerned with matters within its competence. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Strategies used by NGOs in Promoting Human Rights <ul><li>Empowerment of and mobilizing members of society </li></ul><ul><li>Information and Knowledge Production </li></ul><ul><li>Advocacy, campaigning and lobbying </li></ul><ul><li>Health Litigation </li></ul><ul><li>Human Rights Education </li></ul>
  8. 8. Empowerment of and mobilizing members of society <ul><li>NGOs provide citizens with a sense of solidarity and empowerment </li></ul><ul><li>By gathering and associating, citizens are mobilized to participate and be active </li></ul>
  9. 9. Information and Knowledge Production “perhaps the most fundamental strategy lying at the base of NGO activism” <ul><li>Gathering information is essential for many reasons and could take on many different forms, be carried out by different actors and presented through different channels </li></ul>
  10. 10. 1-Monitoring states that have agreed to be bound by the terms of international treaties. <ul><li>Shadow reports: a tool through which civil society illuminates what the government has done with respect to what it claims to have achieved </li></ul><ul><li>NGO joint submission to Egypt’s Universal Periodic Review, run by the Human Rights Council in 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly EIPR partnered with the Centre for Reproductive Rights based in NY for a submission supplementing the combined 6 th and 7 th periodic report of the government of Egypt which was reviewed by the CEDAW committee during its 45 th session earlier this year </li></ul>
  11. 11. 2-Research and data around health <ul><li>Desegregation and human rights analysis of data to highlight inequities and gaps in AAAQ (health expenditure, medicines..) </li></ul><ul><li>Impact assessments </li></ul><ul><li>Budget monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Epidemiology </li></ul>
  12. 12. Use of Epidemiological tools <ul><li>“ the occupation and siege informs the entire health system and the way people live and the struggles that people have to live” </li></ul>
  13. 13. 3-Providing information to governments, international organizations, politicians, the media, etc… <ul><li>Needs Assessment to strengthen and Expand HIV-Related Legal Services in Egypt and the Report on the MENA Regional Consultation on Strengthening and Expanding HIV-Related Legal Services and Rights…IDLO </li></ul><ul><li>Global Commission on HIV and the Law </li></ul><ul><li>Special Rapporteur, health litigation project </li></ul>
  14. 14. 4-Documenting violations of human rights <ul><li>Mobilization of shame </li></ul><ul><li>Using individual testimonies…putting a face to the victims </li></ul><ul><li>Giving publicity to violations of international norms </li></ul><ul><li>PHR-I </li></ul>
  15. 15. Advocacy, campaigning and lobbying <ul><li>Pushing national and international actors to bring about a policy change or legal reform ex. ICBLM </li></ul><ul><li>Putting health and human rights on the international agenda </li></ul><ul><li>Reframing </li></ul>
  16. 16. Advocacy, campaigning and lobbying <ul><li>The campaign towards reforming mental health policies and legislation </li></ul><ul><li>In April 2009, Parliament adopted a new law upholding and promoting the rights of persons with mental illnesses and mental disabilities (Law for the Care of Psychiatric Patients) which reflected, to a large extent, human rights principles and universal professional guidelines. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Health Litigation <ul><li>Litigation as a strategy to advance the right to health by holding governments accountable to human rights norms </li></ul><ul><li>access to health services and medication, discriminatory labor practices, public health policies, the basic determinants of health (such as food, water, shelter, and a healthy environment) </li></ul><ul><li>Who benefits? To what extent does litigation affect health policy and service delivery? The impact on health equity? </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>In September 2008, a favorable court decision obtained by a number of human rights defenders, including EIPR, halted government efforts to establish a Healthcare Holding Company and transfer all Health Insurance Organization hospitals and facilities into affiliate entities of a new for-profit company </li></ul><ul><li>“ Health insurance is one the main means for the realization of the right to health, and which is in turn a human right guaranteed by human rights law, both domestically and internationally. This is due to the interlink between the right to health and the right to life. The state’s provision of health care dictates that the state not expose the right to health to [commercial] investment, or monopoly or bargaining.” </li></ul>Health Litigation (Examples of Strategic Litigation by EIPR)
  19. 19. Health Litigation (Examples of Strategic Litigation by EIPR) <ul><li>CAJ Suspended New Drug-Pricing System which tied drug prices in Egypt with global prices in a lawsuit which EIPR has filed late October 2009.Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) </li></ul><ul><li>The court ordered a suspension of the decree on the grounds that it willfully ignores </li></ul><ul><li>“ the social dimension that the legislator had considered carefully” when designing the old pricing system. The court also affirmed the need to suspend the Minister of Health decree “due to the inevitable repercussions of the implementation of the contested decree, principally increased prices of pharmaceutical drugs and the consequences this will have for citizens’ health and their right to obtain affordable medicine” </li></ul>
  20. 20. Human Rights Education <ul><li>Raising awareness around health and human rights issues through human rights education </li></ul><ul><li>Connect the concept of human rights with practical application concerns for the people </li></ul>
  21. 22. Challenges <ul><li>NGOs competing for scarce resources </li></ul><ul><li>Negative connotation to human rights </li></ul><ul><li>Negative connotation to NGOs </li></ul><ul><li>Media </li></ul><ul><li>There are several difficulties in measuring the influence and impact of NGOs. </li></ul><ul><li>Who are NGOs accountable for? </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of a “health as a human right” culture </li></ul>
  22. 23. “ The right to health is unquestionably part of international human rights law, but still […] many people do not grasp that it is a fundamental human right. They feel intuitively that the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression are human rights, but they do not instinctively regard the right to health as a human right. In other words, the right to health has not yet gained the same human rights currency as more established rights” Paul Hunt, Former SR to Health
  23. 24. Way Forward <ul><li>Enhance the recognition of health as a fundamental human right </li></ul><ul><li>We must identify good practices for the operationalisation of the right to health at the national and international levels </li></ul><ul><li>Progress is only possible through the collaboration of all three sectors, the state, the market and the civil society </li></ul><ul><li>“ what I think health can do is provide a neutral objective space …and to say well we might disagree about the politics but health is something we can agree on” </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Horton, The Lancet Editor </li></ul>
  24. 25. Way Forward <ul><li>Enhance the role of the medical community in promoting the right to health </li></ul><ul><li>“ Those who take on the ethical oath to protect and promote human life and health, have a unique obligation and contribution to make to human rights&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Ottawa charter </li></ul>
  25. 26. Thank you…