Tag Archive 'advocacy'

Access to basic medicines can mean the difference between life and death, and is a critical link in realizing the Right to Health. The UN Working Group on Access to Essential Medicines opened its report on Essential Medicines with the assertion that “The lack of access to life-saving and health-supporting medicines for an estimate 2 billion poor people stands as a direct contradiction to the fundamental principle of health as a human right.”

Join PHR in advocating for better access to essential medicines in resource-poor settings through UNITAID’s new Medicine Patent Pool. Our new National Action Toolkit offers analysis, resources to educate your community, and easy advocacy projects. This week of action spans from today – World AIDS Day (December 1) – to International Human Rights Day (December 10).

As Stephen Marks points out in Access to Essential Medicines as a Component of the Right to Health in Health: A Human Rights Perspective, there are many obstacles to making essential medicines available in poor countries: affordable prices; government commitment and policy; adequate, sustainable, and equitable public sector financing; generic substitution; consumer information; efficient distribution; control of taxes; and careful selection and monitoring.  These structural gaps are addressed by the WHO Medicines Strategy, but have proven to be nearly intractable in many low-income countries, with some notable and inspiring exceptions.

Some countries have attempted to overcome the first gap, affordable prices, by negotiating lower prices or substituting patented drugs with ones obtained through their own production or parallel importation. The pharmaceutical industry challenges the idea that patents cause a lack of access (in part, because not all of the 319 products on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines are patentable). Nevertheless, patents to protect investment in research and development are linked to the high price of certain drugs, notably antiretrovirals (ARVs) to manage HIV/AIDS.

As Lisa Foman asserts in ‘Rights’ and Wrongs: What Utility for the Right to Health in Reforming Trade Rules on Medicines, public pressure, legislative advocacy, and legal accountability are more likely to provoke corporate innovation for diseases affecting poor countries than commercial reasons. In other words: the profit motive does not adequately produce public goods like medicines.

So, this year, we suggest you put these human rights strategies to work. This December, the PHR NSP National Action asks you to educate your community about this human rights issue, and ask drug companies to participate in the UNITAID Medicine Patent Pool.

The prohibitive cost of providing needed drugs impedes access. Join the PHR National Student Program in demanding universal access to essential medicines.

Students gather at a 2008 Regional Advocacy Institute to build their advocacy skills.

This December 1 through 10, students across the US will be joining forces for the first PHR NSP National Action of the year.

December 1 is World AIDS Day – a day to acknowledge the impact of HIV/ AIDS and to demand a legitimate response.  This year, the United Nations has chosen the theme “Universal Access and Human Rights.”

Since the United Nations drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1947, December 10 has been observed as International Human Rights Day.  The day serves as a time to reflect on the continued significance of this document, and how we can demand that it be honored in the face of ongoing human rights violations.

National Actions are useful to Chapters as organizing tools to build energy and interest among new members, and sustain momentum for existing members.  They can demonstrate the impact that students can have on health policy and practice.

The NSP will announce the December National Action next week.  Join us!

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The National Student Program’s main purpose is to strengthen Chapters’ advocacy and education skills and support the Chapters’ connection to PHR’s human rights work. As the school year draws to a close, the PHR National Student Program is considering how to make next year better, and we need your help. Take a moment to fill out an evalution survey for the 2009-2010 National Student Program.

Please complete the appropriate survey. Chapter Leaders, you do not need to fill out the evaluation survey for All Students, only your own. Many thanks!

Your response will enable us to provide the skill-building, educational materials, and advocacy opportunities that you want and need.

Thank you for all you’ve done this year with

Later this week, more about student leadership and strengthening your PHR Chapter for next fall:

  • Putting the Fun into Fundraising for a Strong Start Next Fall
  • Opportunities for Student Leadership in Your Region

Stay tuned!

Less than two weeks until the South and Midwest Regional Institutes on Saturday, September 26 — there is still time to register! You can register up until the night before, but we prefer that you do so as soon as possible to help us better prepare and provide the best Institute experience possible.

Help make sure we get a great crowd by inviting all of your friends who may be interested, via email or our Facebook group!

Here is some key information to help you prepare to for the Institutes:

Midwest Institute (Chicago, IL)

The Midwest Institute will take place in the Armour Academic Center at Rush University. Make sure you’re there by 10:15am to hear the opening presenter, University of Chicago’s Dr. Ken Fox, Senior Staff Physician and Professor of Pediatrics!

South Institute (Nashville, TN)

The South Institute will take place in the West Basic Sciences Building (WBS) at Meharry Medical School. Make sure you’re there by 9:15am to hear the opening presenter, Dr. Joseph Interrante, CEO of Nashville Cares!

I also want to personally introduce the amazing Regional Training Coordinators, who made these Institutes possible and are a great resource to those who will attend:

  • Shaheja Sitafawalla, MPH, Rush University (M1). Shaheja spent this past summer working as co-coordinator of a sanitation education project in rural, western Kenya.
  • Nia Imani Bodrick, MPH, Meharry Medical School (M3). Nia’s interest in health and human rights began when she worked as an intern at Advocates for Youth, focusing on adolescent reproductive and sexual health.

If you have more questions about getting to Chicago or Nashville, or need further area-specific advice, contact me and I will put you in touch with one of these great coordinators.

See you there!

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I’d like to officially welcome the PHR Student Chapters to the start of the 2009-2010 academic year! We’re very excited about all that we have planned, including the Regional Institutes, the National Conference, and a variety of action opportunities for advancing health and human rights!

2009-2010 Student Program Focus Issues

Global Health Action Campaign (GHAC)

PHR’s new Campaign aims to establish the right to health as the framework governments use to develop, implement, and fund health programs. Through this new campaign, PHR provides students with numerous resources to spark Right to Health dialogue on-campus and in the community, including film and book recommendations, case studies, and a discussion guide. We’ll be launching this new academic year with a national GHAC action, advocating for federal funding for needle exchange programs. Student chapters can also take part in the Global Health Action Campaign by participating in World AIDS Day (December 1) and the Global Health Week of Action (April 4-April 10). Visit the GHAC student site to learn more.

Health and Human Rights Education Campaign (HHRE)

Education is a powerful tool for promoting a rights-based culture in the health professions and help students become more informed and effective advocates. HHRE provides resources for student and faculty efforts to incorporate a health and human rights paradigm into their academics, with a focus on curriculum change and elective creation. The revamped HHRE Campaign includes:

  • A variety of educational content for curriculum creation
  • A Toolkit filled with guidelines, templates, and hands-on resources
  • A network of student mentors who are eager to support other chapters

Regional Advocacy Institutes

Join with like-minded students to learn about pressing health and human rights issues, build new skills and connections to develop your advocacy power, and network with experts and other students from the region! Find the Regional Institute in your region.

GHAC Fall Action: Strengthen Needle Exchange Programs

To support the Student Program’s initial action, advocating for needle exchange programs, PHR has distributed postcards, instructions, and educational resources to the chapter leaders. In September, the Senate will vote whether or not to end the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs — a ban that has already been lifted by the House. Now is the time to urge your Senators to end the ban and ensure that unnecessary restrictions are not added to needle exchange programs. Mail those postcards to your Senators by September 7th so that your voice will be heard in time! Educational events and meetings with district offices are great accompaniments to this action (contact Danielle for more info). Learn about the political climate around needle exchange and check out some of our educational resources on needle exchange.

Introducing the 2009-2010 Volunteer Leadership

In addition to PHR staff, volunteer leaders are a very useful resource for student chapters. Training and Education Coordinators, Regional Chapter Mentors, HHRE Mentors and the Student Advisory Board are available to help students.

PHR has distributed many more resources and materials to help start the new year, including a welcome packet for chapter leaders and an updated Student Chapter Toolbox. If you have any questions or would like more information on PHR’s programs or actions, please contact Danielle.