Human Rights and Health Care

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, proclaimed that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.” Although this statement of high principle was adopted at the urging of the United States, and although it reflects the truths of our nation’s founding documents, our government has achieved neither formal recognition nor practical realization of these rights. Mass homelessness and the escalating health care crisis in the US are compelling evidence of our disregard for human rights. Sadly, our country is but one of many nations where grave offenses against the dignity of human beings are commonplace, and global enforcement of human rights remains a distant goal. In the US, however, the twin advantages of democratic institutions and great wealth provide the opportunity for our nation to implement the principles human rights. Implementation of human rights principles will lead inexorably to the elimination of mass homelessness. A useful summary of the international agreements that establish and codify the human right to health care, entitled “The Right to Health Care in the United States: What Does it Mean?” has been published by the Center on Social and Economic Rights, and is available by clicking here or at CESR’s website. Since 1991, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council has recognized that “every person has the right to adequate food, housing, clothing and health care” and has incorporated a human rights perspective into our work to assure health care for everyone and to ends homelessness. Policy changes that will advance implementation of the right to health care, along with other human rights such as housing, are described in the annual Policy Statements of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. A number of important organizations advocate for a rights-based approach to social justice organizing. We call to your attention: US HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK 659 Auburn Ave NE, Unit 205 Atlanta, GA 30312 404/588-9761 The US Human Rights Network was formed to promote US accountability to universal human rights standards by building linkages between organizations, as well as individuals, working on human rights issues in the United States. The Network strives towards building a human rights culture in the United States that puts those directly affected by human rights violations, with a special emphasis on grassroots organizations and social movements, in a central leadership role. The Network also works towards connecting the US human rights movement with the broader US social justice movement and human rights movements around the world. THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS Tordenskioldsgate 6b 0160 Oslo NORWAY The International Society for Health and Human Rights is a membership organisation for health workers engaged in work with survivors of human rights violations. The aim of the Society is to contribute to the promotion and improvement of aid to persons who have experienced gross violations of human rights, and to contribute to the world-wide eradication of gross violations of human rights, with emphasis on increasing knowledge and exchanging information about treatment methods, medical and psychological care and psychosocial interventions, campaign for the recognition of the consequences of gross violations of human rights for health and society, adhere to existing international legal instruments concerned with health and human rights, encourage their implementation and improvement and support colleagues involved in the care of persons who have experienced gross violations of human rights. OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Palais des Nations 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland 41 22 9179159 The High Commissioner is the principal UN official with responsibility for human rights and is accountable to the Secretary- General. The post of High Commissioner was created in 1993. There are different UN human rights institutions and agencies. All have the common aim of promoting and protecting internationally agreed human rights – civil, cultural, economic, political and social. These rights were first proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every person on the globe is equally entitled to enjoy them, and the task given to the High Commissioner is to strengthen the efforts of the United Nations to implement all of them. PHYSICIANS FOR A NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM 29 E Madison Suite 602 Chicago, IL 60602 312/782-6006 Physicians for a National Health Program is a single-issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive Single-Payer National Health Program. PNHP has more than 10,000 members and chapters across the United States. Its members and physician activists work toward a Single-Payer National Health Program in their communities. PNHP organizes rallies, town hall meetings, and debates; coordinates speakers and forum discussions; contributes Op-Eds and articles to the nation’s top newspapers, medical journals and magazines; and appears regularly on national television and news programs advocating for a Single-Payer system. THE CAMPAIGN FOR A NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM NOW! 339 Lafayette St. New York, NY 10012-2725 212/475-8350 CNHPNow is a grassroots organizing effort in support of HR 676. The organization’s efforts complement among lay people the work being done among doctors by Physicians for a National Health Plan. AMERICAN MEDICAL STUDENT ASSOCIATION 1902 Association Drive Reston, Virginia 20191 703/620-6600 The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) is a student-governed, national organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. With a membership of nearly 50,000 medical students, premedical students, interns, residents and practicing physicians from across the country, AMSA is a vital force of future physicians who believe that patients and health professionals are partners in the management of health care and that access to high-quality health care is a right and not a privilege. At AMSA, activism is a way of life. Student idealism is transformed into meaningful public service, innovation and institutional change. PROJECT EINO (EVERYBODY IN, NOBODY OUT) 1815 MLK Parkway Ste #2, PMB #142 Durham, NC 27707 The mission of Project EINO and is to provide educational resources and a forum for discussion on the concept of a Right to Health Care. This educational work includes the history and philosophy of the concept and its relation to other human rights, legal documentation and argumentation, the geography of work on the Right to Health Care, the relation of this concept to other work in US health care reform and international perspectives. EINO provides a discussion forum including opposing viewpoints to assist visitors in evaluating the issues from all perspectives. The educational work is intended to provide a basis for broad popular mobilization, demands on legislatures and activism generally on this issue. CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RIGHTS 162 Montague St 2nd Floor Brooklyn NY 11201 718/237-9145 Established in 1993, the Center for Economic and Social Rights is one of the first organizations to challenge economic injustice as a violation of international human rights law. Through its projects abroad and in the United States, CESR has developed an effective strategy that combines research, advocacy, collaboration, and education. CESR believes that economic and social rights — legally binding on all nations — can provide a universally accepted framework for strengthening social justice activism. MENTAL DISABILITY RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL 1156 15th Street NW Suite 1001 Washington, DC 20005 202/296-0800 Established in 1993, MDRI documents conditions, publishes reports on human rights enforcement, and promotes international oversight of the rights of people with mental disabilities. Drawing on the skills and experience of attorneys, mental health professionals, human rights advocates, people with mental disabilities and their family members, MDRI trains and supports advocates seeking legal and service system reform and assists governments to develop laws and policies to promote community integration and human rights enforcement for people with mental disabilities. MDRI, based in Washington, DC, is forging new alliances throughout the world to challenge the discrimination and abuse faced by people with mental disabilities, as well as working with locally-based advocates to create new advocacy projects and to promote citizen participation and human rights for children and adults. SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION AMERICANS FOR HEALTH CARE 1313 L Street, NW Washington, DC 20005 866/HCVOTER Americans for Health Care is uniting working families, small business owners, seniors, health care workers, community leaders, and policy makers to fight for affordable, quality health care that we can all count on. In states across the country, we are building broad-based coalitions of individuals and organizations who are concerned about rising health costs in order to push for health care policies which ensure: • Quality, affordable health care for all, without gaps in coverage or access; • Care that is cost efficient and medically effective; • A core package of health insurance benefits with choices comparable in quantity and scope to those available to federal employees; and • Financing that is fair and includes employers, individuals, and the federal, state and local governments. THE NATIONAL LAW CENTER ON HOMELESSNESS & POVERTY 1411 K Street NW Suite 1400 Washington, DC 20005 202/638-2535 The mission of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty is to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness. To achieve its mission, the Law Center pursues three main strategies: impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. The Law Center strives to place homelessness in the larger context of poverty. By taking this approach, the Law Center aims to address homelessness as a very visible manifestation of deeper causes: the shortage of affordable housing, insufficient income, and inadequate social services. The Law Center presses for solutions that address the causes of homelessness, not just its symptoms.