The Right to Health and Equitable Healthcare Systems

August 30, 2010

Respecting, protecting and fulfilling the right to health necessarily requires accessible and effective health systems. If a country is to deliver basic health care to its people, it requires a fully functional equitable health system. However, health systems have suffered much neglect in recent decades despite their critical and constructive contribution to health rights. Refocusing on health systems will give impetus to the campaign for the right to health. It is for this reason that ‘Equitable health care systems and the Right to Health’ was chosen as the focus for the IFHHRO Annual Conference 2007.

The conference was co-organized by IFHHRO and the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 24-26 October 2007. Thanks to ZADHR and all the participants, the conference was regarded a successful and inspiring event. The theme provoked excellent presentations contributing to IFHHRO’s mission: engaging health professionals in realising the Right to Health.

Contributions included:

  • good practices in monitoring access to essential medicines
  • insights in the need for a human rights approach to essential health technologies (laboratory tests) 
  • reflections on the skills drain/wastage
  • suggestions for community involvement in health care systems, and 
  • reflections on the role of National Medical Associations in partnering for equity.

Some forty international and over fifty Zimbabwean participants exchanged experiences, information, ideas and provided colleague support. International participants came from Burundi, Nigeria, Mozambique, Sudan, South-Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, and also from India, Malaysia, Peru, UK, Denmark, Palestine, Australia, USA and Switzerland.

During the conference, IFHHRO tested the idea for an Interactive Reporting System. All participants voted in favour of this ambitious project, expressing their wishes, expectations and concerns. Through three participatory workshops, IFHHRO has gained essential input for the development of this Interactive Reporting System.

Also, the recently adopted World Medical Association (WMA) Resolution on Health and Human Rights Abuses in Zimbabwe was discussed in a plenary session. The resolution has already proved to be of great importance in supporting the work of ZADHR. IFHHRO has committed itself to give as much effect to this resolution as it can, by circulating it in its international network and stimulating National Medical Associations, Nursing Councils, health and human rights NGOs, academic networks and international organisations to take action.

Following the conference in Harare, IFHHRO carried out a mission to get an insight view on the health and human rights situation in Zimbabwe. The IFHHRO representatives have made a statement on the situation. IFHHRO calls on all its members and observers to take action on this statement.

Full-text WMA Resolution on Zimbabwe

IFHHRO statement (PDF)

Short report (PDF)

Conference programme (PDF)