By Kelly Bienhoff (Tuesday, Dec 7, 2010)
“I spend half my time comforting the afflicted and the other half afflicting the comfortable.”
— Wess Stafford, President, Compassion International
As the newest member of the PHR National Student Program team, I’m looking forward to working closely with you all over the next few months as we prepare for the National Conference in February. It is encouraging to see the incredible work the student members have accomplished so far. As health professionals, you are dedicating your careers to caring for the sick. As PHR members, you have committed to advocating for the adoption of a human rights framework for health care provision. Talk about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable! It is inspiring, to say the least.
Wednesday marked the beginning of our 10-day National Action dedicated to raising awareness of a pressing concern at the intersection of health and human rights: Access to Essential Medicines — decidedly a human rights issue. I find the complacency of the pharmaceutical industry to so many of the health needs of the international populace to be frankly appalling. Encouraging pharmaceutical companies to license certain ARV patents to the Medicine Patent Pool is simple human rights advocacy you can do today — just use the letters in the National Action Toolkit. I find it only fitting that our National Action wraps up on December 10, International Human Rights Day.
Over the course of this week-long National Action, PHR calls on you to organize engaging on-campus or city-wide events to raise awareness of this critical problem. Please see the National Action Toolkit for a comprehensive guide to getting started. It offers a variety of resources that outline the political, social and economic factors that impede access to essential medicines and lead to medical supply shortages and disparities in treatment worldwide.
Even if you are unable to organize or attend an event yourself, keep up-to-date on the issue! I am a firm believer in the maxim “knowledge is power.” Review the literature, read current news articles, and check out engaging websites and presentations — all of which can be found in the Toolkit Resource Guide.