UN rights group calls on world leaders to invest in health and well-being
UN rights group calls on world leaders to invest in health and well-being

The High-Level Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents [WHO statement] released a report [text, PDF] Tuesday imploring world leaders to allocate 5 percent of their country’s GDP in “public health spending,” according [press release] to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website]. Tarja Halonen, former president of Finland and co-chair of the High-Level Group, said “human rights … to health” must be recognized and protected in order to achieve the goals established in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda [materials]. The report outlines nine recommendations falling under three main categories; “creating an enabling environment,” “partner[ing] with people,” and “strengthen[ing] evidence and public accountability.” The report, which is addressed to the Director General of the World Health Organization [official website], states: “We know what needs doing, and how to do it. We know why we should do it. We also know it makes financial sense. What we need is more concrete and sustained political commitment and leadership.” The report will be presented [materials] to the Human Rights Council on June 13.

Female access to equitable healthcare services has been a contentious and evolving battle throughout the world, especially with regards to reproductive and sexual health. Last June the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law called on [JURIST report] the world’s governments to take quick, effective steps towards ensuring women are granted equal rights to health. The report refers to the “instrumentalization” of women in the healthcare system, in particular the “subjection of women’s natural biological functions to a politicized patriarchal agenda.” Earlier that month independent experts for the UN found [JURIST report] a woman faced “inhumane treatment” while seeking an abortion procedure in Northern Ireland. In the press release, the experts called upon countries to more effectively balance the rights of the fetus with the rights of the woman, viewing her as more than just a mechanism for child-bearing. In February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged [JURIST report] all countries to eliminate the practice of female genital mutilation by 2030.