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Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2012 Feb 1; 90(2):79A.Despite global commitment and prevention through well-known interventions, progress has been slow towards Millennium Development Goal 5 of reducing global maternal mortality. The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council has highlighted maternal mortality as an issue bearing not just on development, but also on human rights. In August 2011, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women became the first UN human rights body to issue a decision on maternal mortality. The case Alyne da Silva Pimentel v. Brazil established that States have a human rights obligation to guarantee women of all racial and economic backgrounds timely and non-discriminatory access to appropriate maternal health services. After the death of this Brazilian woman who died from pregnancy-related causes after a misdiagnosis and delay in provision of emergency obstetric care, the Convention of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) argued that there was no effort to establish professional responsibility and that she was unable to obtain justice in Brazil. The Committee found violations of the right to access health care and effective judicial protection in the context of non-discrimination; cases like this furnish opportunities for international and domestic accountability. The Committee made several general recommendations intended to reduce preventable maternal deaths, which include ensuring women’s rights to safe motherhood and emergency obstetric care, providing professional training for health workers, and implementing Brazil’s national Pact for the Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality.
[Wellington, New Zealand], Family Planning International, 2006 Dec. 27 p.This report focuses on the relationship between policies implemented by the World Trade Organisation, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, and access to health, particularly sexual and reproductive health. .
Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2006 May; 84(5):337-424.Developing countries are failing to make full use of flexibilities built into the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to overcome patent barriers and, in turn, allow them to acquire the medicines they need for high priority diseases, in particular, HIV/AIDS. First-line antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for HIV/AIDS have become more affordable and available in recent years, but for patients facing drug resistance and side-effects, second-line ARV drugs and other newer formulations are likely to remain prohibitively expensive and inaccessible in many countries. The problem is that many of these countries are not using all the tools at their disposal to overcome these barriers. Medicines protected by patents tend to be expensive, as pharmaceutical companies try to recoup their research and development (R&D) costs. When there is generic competition prices can be driven down dramatically. The TRIPS Agreement came into effect on 1 January 1995 setting out minimum standards for the protection of intellectual property, including patents on pharmaceuticals. Under that agreement, since 2005 new drugs may be subject to at least 20 years of patent protection in all, apart from in the least-developed countries and a few non-WTO Members, such as Somalia. Successful AIDS programmes, such as those in Brazil and Thailand, have only been possible because key pharmaceuticals were not patent protected and could be produced locally at much lower cost. For example, when the Brazilian Government began producing generic AIDS drugs in 2000, prices dropped. AIDS triple-combination therapy, which costs US$ 10 000 per patient per year in industrialized countries, can now be obtained from Indian generic drugs company, Cipla, for less than US$ 200 per year. This puts ARV treatment within reach of many more people. (excerpt)
Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2006 May; 84(5):371-375.Most countries have acceded to at least one global or regional covenant or treaty confirming the right to health. After years of international discussions on human rights, many governments are now moving towards practical implementation of their commitments. A practical example may be of help to those governments who aim to translate their international treaty obligations into practice. WHO's Essential Medicines Programme is an example of how this transition from legal principles to practical implementation may be achieved. This programme has been consistent with human rights principles since its inception in the early 1980s, through its focus on equitable access to essential medicines. This paper provides a brief overview of what the international human rights instruments mention about access to essential medicines, and proposes five assessment questions and practical recommendations for governments. These recommendations cover the selection of essential medicines, participation in programme development, mechanisms for transparency and accountability, equitable access by vulnerable groups, and redress mechanisms. (author's)