Framing child mortality as a human rights issue

I want to share a few fantastic initiatives that deserve closer attention, by the current and former United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the right to health:

1. Report to UNGA on health financing for the right to health:

The first is an excellent report that Anand Grover drafted for the 67th session of the UN General Assembly this September. It is a succinct description of the critical role of financing for realisation of the right to health. It identifies clear recommendations for duty bearers:

To governments, it emphasises the need for efficient and equitable domestic financing policy to secure sufficient resources, promote progressive taxation, and expand equitable financial risk protection, including the reduction or elimination of out-of-pocket payments.

This is what we have long been calling for and working towards at country, global and regional levels. It is also closely linked to the resolution on Universal Health Coverage that we hope will be ratified by the UNGA tomorrow.

For development assistance, it calls for better coordination of donor aid, and investments to strengthen systems that will deliver equitable and sustainable progress on health outcomes for the children whose needs are most. It goes a step further to provide the basis for a binding global mechanism to pool global resources, recognising our shared responsibility to realise this right to health for all.

2. Interview on the power and potential of rights frameworks:

The second initiative is short and sharp interview below with Paul Hunt – former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health – which the WHO has posted on You Tube in celebration of Human Rights Day.

Despite huge progress on maternal and child mortality, 19,000 died each day in 2011. Most of these deaths could have been prevented. The right to health is a matter of legal obligation, and duty bearers should be held accountable for delivering on this, such as through fair and sufficient financing – as per Grover’s report above.

Human rights tools and approaches should be better utilised to this effect and, as Paul Hunt states, the time is ripe for the child health community to frame child mortality as a human rights issue. In 2013, the Human Rights Council is having a special day on the child’s right to health – here’s our opportunity…

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