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Using international human rights law to improve child health in low-income countries: a framework for healthcare professionals

O'Hare, BA; Devakumar, D; Allen, S; (2016) Using international human rights law to improve child health in low-income countries: a framework for healthcare professionals. BMC International Health and Human Rights , 16 (11) 10.1186/s12914-016-0083-1. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that the right to health is closely related to, and dependent upon, the realization of other human rights, including the right to food, water, education and shelter which are important determinants of health. Children's healthcare workers in low income settings may spend the majority of their professional lives trying to mitigate deficiencies of these rights but have little influence over them. In order to advocate successfully at a local level, we should be aware of the proportion of children living in our catchment population who do not have access to their basic rights. In order to carry out a rights audit, a framework within which healthcare workers could play their part is required, as is an agreed minimum core of rights, a timeframe and a set of indicators. DISCUSSION: A framework to assess how well states and their developmental partners are adhering to human rights principles is discussed, including the role that a healthcare worker might optimally play. A minimum core of economic and social rights seeks to establish a legal minimum set of protections, which should be available with immediate effect and applicable to all nations despite very different resources. Minimum core rights and the impact that progressive realisation may have had on the right to health is discussed, including what they should include from the perspective of children's health. A set of absolute rights are suggested, based on physiological needs and aligned with the corresponding articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The development indicators which are likely to be used to monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is suggested as a way to monitor rights. We consider the ways in which the healthcare worker could use a rights audit to advocate with, and for their community. These audits could achieve several objectives. They may legitimise healthcare workers' interests in the determinants of health and, as they are often highly respected by their community, this may facilitate them to be agents for change at a local level. This may raise awareness on basic human rights and their importance to health and contribute to a needed change in mind-set from one of development needs to absolute rights. The results may catalyse colleagues to analyse further the upstream reasons why children, and the families in which they live, are not having their rights met.

Type: Article
Title: Using international human rights law to improve child health in low-income countries: a framework for healthcare professionals
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12914-016-0083-1
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12914-016-0083-1
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 O’Hare et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Children; Duty bearers; Health; Health professionals; Human rights; United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1478103
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