Breastfeeding and infant and maternal health: a human rights analysis

By Benedetta Inguscio, University of Groningen, LLM Public International Law,

With millions of children dying each year of malnutrition, breastfeeding holds the potential to save more lives than any public health intervention on infant mortality. This unique practice, achievable at an incomparably minimal cost, has also proven to have positive health effects on lactating mothers, protecting them from, inter alia, osteoporosis and breast and ovarian cancer.

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Contributions to the EAHL conference

By Yi Zhang (Eva), University of Groningen Faculty of Law, PhD Candidate,

On the 28 – 29 of September 2017, Prof. Brigit Toebes, Dr.  Marie Elske Gispen and Yi Zhang participated in the 6th annual conference of the European Association of Health Law (‘EAHL’). The conference was organized by the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, Norway in cooperation with the EAHL. The theme of the conference was health rights regulations and the distribution of healthcare in Europe. 

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Voices in the Field: Professors Asbjorn Eide and Wenche Barth Eide

By Professor Brigit Toebes

This interview is the first publication from the series ‘Voices in the field,’ a joint endeavour by GHLG and IFHHRO.*

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Professor Asbjorn Eide (Oslo) is co-founder and former director of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights at the University of Oslo and a renowned human rights scholar who stood at the cradle of the tripartite typology of state obligations (respect, protect, fulfil). In 1981 Eide was elected member of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights, 1981—2003), where he has been re-elected several times as the only Nordic member, and has been responsible for developing a number of studies of this sub-committee.

Eide 1Wenche Barth Eide is Professor of Nutrition at the Medical Faculty of the University of Oslo. She was a pioneer with Asbjørn and other Norwegian colleagues in the early work on interlinkages between food and human rights and continued for many years to give content to the human right to adequate food; specifically the group developed a right to adequate food matrix which combines the tripartite typology of state obligations with elements of food and nutrition security (later used and adapted by Brigit Toebes for the right to health). More recently they have in their emeriti positions been working on the human rights consequences of unhealthy diets and have in this context helped create the interdisciplinary research and action network FoHRC (Food, Human Rights and Corporations which Wenche currently coordinates.

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Ebola, Burial Practices and the Right to Health in West Africa: Integrating International Human Rights with Local Norms

Julie Fraser, PhD Candidate SIM, Utrecht University,, and Henrike Prudon, MSC, Cultural Anthropology, Utrecht University,  

Culture and health are to some degree mutually constitutive. The cultural frameworks into which we are socialised often shape our views on sickness, wellbeing, the causes of illnesses, and their remedies. The UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights acknowledges this and, therefore, requires all health goods, facilities, and services to be “culturally appropriate”. This is an obligation on all States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to progressively realise. Culturally sensitive approaches to healthcare are important at all times, but can be especially vital during an epidemic. Our study of the recent Ebola crisis that reached a peak in West Africa in 2015 exemplified how indispensable culturally sensitive approaches to the right to health can be.

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Pharmaceutical Pricing Hostages

By Ellen ‘t Hoen, Global Health Unit Department of Health Sciences, UMCG Groningen,

Ireland seems to be the stage of some of the most bizarre pharmaceutical company behaviour these days. This month, the pharmaceutical company CSL Behring announced it will no longer provide Respreeza (human alpha1-proteinase inhibitor), a treatment for hereditary emphysema, for free. Most of the patients that depend on the programme had volunteered to be part of the clinical trials to test the product, which was necessary to obtain a marketing authorisation for the product. CSL Behring gained such authorisation  in 2015 and priced the product at €103,768 (VAT incl.) per year’s treatment. Here you can find the cost-effectiveness evaluation by the Irish National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE). The company has now told the patients that the donation programme they depend on will come to a halt. Of course, if they pay the price or persuade the government to pay, the patients can get access to the product. This case is particularly bitter because the patients who are left out in the cold are the very people that helped the company get its marketing approval. In other walks of life, this would be called a hostage situation.

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A Reflection: Summer School Law & Lifestyle

By Dr Marie Elske Gispen, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Groningen

Most deaths that currently occur globally are the result of chronic or ‘noncommunicable’ diseases, in particular, cardiovascular diseases, most cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Although medical science plays an important role in reducing these diseases, law and policy are also crucial, in particular as they can ensure access to prevention, treatment, and care, and address behavioral risk factors such as smoking, excess alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating and a lack of physical exercise. Indeed, goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals is devoted to combatting and reducing by one-third all premature mortality as a result of noncommunicable diseases.

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Guilin, 2017: China Hosts Country’s First International Symposium on Global Health Law

By Yi Zhang (Eva), University of Groningen Faculty of Law, PhD Candidate,

In order to further promote the level of global health governance and encourage research in global health law, the 2017 International Symposium on Global Health Law was held in Guilin city, China from July 2nd to July 3rd, 2017. The organizer of the symposium was Central South University, China. The symposium was hosted jointly by the Institute of Medical and Health Law of Central South University, the O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law of Georgetown University, and the Global Health Law Research Centre of the University of Groningen (GHLG).

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