Dec. 10 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations’ ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first global commitment to protect the fundamental human rights of all people. In an article appearing Dec. 9 in The Lancet to mark this milestone, Dr. Chris Beyrer, director of the Duke Global Health Institute, and other health leaders say the world is backing away from this commitment at its peril.
Beyrer and co-authors note that the attacks on medical facilities and endangerment of health care workers that have occurred in wars in Ukraine and Gaza are becoming increasingly common and represent a dangerous departure from principles of medical neutrality and human rights. Beyrer says researchers and the medical sector need to do more to document human rights abuses and advocate for the essential right of all people to access health care.
His comments below, available for use in media coverage, are from this article.
“Seventy-five years on, the world is tested and tormented by an agonizing array of conflicts in which human rights violations are not secondary outcomes, but rather central to such conflicts,” writes Dr. Chris Beyrer, professor of medicine and global health and director of the Duke Global Health Institute, in an article appearing Dec. 9 in The Lancet.
“All (of these conflicts) have in common violations of the rules of conduct in war — specifically, attacks on civilians, health care workers, health care facilities, and infrastructure and other violations of medical neutrality. These attacks are also violations of the right to health; through the denial of health care access, they undermine the principle of dignity and the equal value of all human lives.”
“The responsibility to protect rights cannot be left to our current political systems and human rights bodies, including the U.N., because they are manifestly failing to do so in many places.”
“The tools of population-based sciences need to be used more intensively and routinely to document and measure human rights abuses and to use this information to hold governments and other actors to account.”
“Medicine and health care must be a more active participant in advocacy for health care access as a human right in all societies.”
Dr. Chris Beyrer is a Duke University professor of medicine and global health and director of the Duke Global Health Institute. An epidemiologist who has worked on the frontlines of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 treatment and research, he serves as the co-chair of The Lancet Commission for Health and Human Rights, as well as several other global groups focused on human rights and the protection of health care workers. Beyrer has been involved in collaborative research on HIV prevention and care in Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia for more than 30 years.
For additional comments, contact Chris Beyrer at:
_ _ _ _
Duke experts on a variety of topics can be found here.
Follow Duke News on Twitter: @DukeNews