IFHHRO | Medical Human Rights Network promotes health-related human rights, including the right to health. Our focus is on the important role of health professionals.

We believe that there lies a huge potential in the health professions that could be mobilized for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Training materials

IFHHRO’s online Human Rights for Health Workers training manual: training sessions in four languages


Steps for Change

How to use human rights to address problems in your own healthcare institution


Voices in the Field

Experienced professionals in the field of health on the role of human rights in their careers



Russia: release Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva!

In Russia, Dr. Anastasiya Vasilyeva, the President of the Doctors Alliance, was put in isolation in her own house in January, following her arrest during a protest rally in Moscow in support of Putin opponent Alexei Navalny. IFHHRO sent a letter today to the General of Justice, Mr. Bastykin, and the General Procecutor of the Russian Federation, Mr. Krasnov, requesting them to acquit Dr. Vasilyeva of all charges and release her from house arrest.

Read the letter below.

IFHHRO | Medical Human Rights Network has been notified of the imposition of house arrest and isolation of our colleague Dr. Anastasiya Vasilyeva. She is reportedly accused of violating COVID-19 sanitary and epidemiological rules, while attending a protest rally in Moscow on January 23, 2021.

This accusation has no legitimate ground, as Moscow mayor Mr. Sergei Sobyanin lifted all restrictions on COVID-19 the day before.

There is compelling evidence that her arrest follows her public position regarding the arrest and conviction of Mr. Alexei Navalny, in which she, as Chair of the Doctors Alliance, has protested the violation of Mr. Navalny’s right to life and health.

Her protest has its legal basis in international human rights treaties, as enshrined in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by the Russian government.

Ms. Anastasiya Vasilyeva’s house arrest and isolation from her minor children is illegal and causes medical damage to the community she serves. This is a clear violation of the principles of the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which is also recognized by the Russian government.

We therefore urge the Russian authorities to unconditionally release our colleague Anastasiya Vasilyeva in order to enable her to take care of her family, including two young children, and to continue her work as a doctor without political impediments.


COVID-19 vaccine producers have human rights responsibilities

By February 5, not a single dose of COVID-19 vaccines was administered in 130 countries with a combined population of 2.5 billion people, the World Health Organization reports. According to Human Rights Watch, inequitable access to vaccines is the reason for this alarming statistic. “Of the more than 131 million doses given in 73 countries by February 8, 78 percent (more than 102.48 million doses) went to people in the United States, China, within the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Bridging the vaccine gap requires a human rights approach. Governments have the primary responsibility to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine. But companies have human rights responsibilities too.”

Especially pharma companies should adopt a rights-based approach to help bridge the vaccine gap. A new Question-and-Answer document published by Human Rights Watch highlights the issues pharmaceutical companies should respond to, including intellectual property and pricing risks.

Access the report “Universal and Equitable Access to Covid-19 Vaccines, Testing, Treatments: Companies’ Human Rights Responsibilities”


Conversion therapy as a form of torture

In the 2021 New Year Report of the International Forensic Expert Group (IFEG), the group describes its activities and achievements in the past year.  IFEG is an international body of independent forensic specialists who are recognized as global leaders in the medico-legal investigation of torture, ill-treatment, and unlawful killing. One of them is our secretary, Adriaan van Es.

Conversion therapy is one of the issues raised in the annual report. Conversion therapies are harmful practices that aim to change, ‘cure’ or ‘repair’ someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices are taking place worldwide in communities where being gay or transgender is frowned upon or considered a mental illness. Being subjected to conversion therapy causes severe physical and psychological suffering.  It is also considered a form of torture.

IFEG published an Expert Statement on Conversion Therapy in early 2020, which has since been cited in the media many times. The publication and widespread distribution of the statement has contributed to steps to ban this practice in several states, including Australia and Israel.

Mental health-care providers

In May 2020,  the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, issued a report to the Human Rights Council on conversion therapy.  According to him, not only members of faith-based organizations and traditional healers are among the perpetrators, but also private and public mental health-care providers.

As stated in the report: “It is confirmed in an abundance of the literature that mental health professionals continue to carry out such practices, for example in China, the Republic of Korea, the United States and countries in Eastern Europe. In China, a randomized survey found that roughly 50 per cent of ‘conversion’ agents were public hospitals. Roughly one third of
some 1,000 mental health professionals interviewed in a study carried out in China said that being gay was a form of mental illness and that they regarded practices of ‘conversion therapy’ as effective.”

No medical justification

In 2012, the Pan American Health Organization already noted that these therapies had no medical justification and represented a severe threat to the health and human rights of affected persons. And in 2016, the World Psychiatric Association found that “there is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed.”

Read more