BMC International Health and Human Rights: 2016 in Review

In 2016, BMC International Health and Human Rights published a variety of interesting articles that both created and stimulated debate on health and human rights. As the New Year approaches, let’s have a look at five of the most influential and highly accessed articles from 2016.

Improving child health in low-income countries

Bernadette Ann-Marie O’Hare, Delan Devakumar, and Stephen Allen

Health professionals in low-income countries spend much of their professional lives dealing with the consequences of deficiencies in human rights for children, but have little influence over many factors that impact on this. Bernadette Ann-Marie O’Hare et al. discussed a framework in their article within which healthcare workers can carry out an audit and be agents for change at a local level. Looking at basic rights such as access to clean water, sanitation, food, shelter, education, and health, O’Hare et al. notified that such audits can provide information on the proportion of children living in a catchment who do not have access to their basic rights, and achieve several objectives. Aside from raising awareness on basic human rights and their importance to health, the audits could give the healthcare worker an informed voice to advocate at forums such as district councils, and legitimise their role as agents for change. Results could also help negotiations with international and non-governmental organizations that often arrive in a district with a predetermined set of objectives.

Published: 30 March 2016

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Maternity care and Human Rights: what do women think?

Andrea Solnes Miltenburg, Fleur Lambermon, Cees Hamelink, and Tarek Meguid

Andrea Solnes Miltenburg et al. explored women’s perspectives and experiences of maternal health services through a human rights perspective in Magu District, Tanzania. By conducting 36 semi-structured interviews with 17 women, a series of important themes emerged surrounding the topic of maternity care. These included dignity, autonomy, equality, and security. Miltenburg et al. concluded that while Tanzanian women are aware that substandard care was present, the same women are able to voice what basic human rights principles mean to them as well as their desired applications in maternal health service provision.

Published: 2 July 2016

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Violence against women engaged in sex work

Laura Cordisco Tsai, Catherine E. Carlson, Toivgoo Aira, Andrea Norcini Pala, Marion Riedel, and Susan S. Witte

Women who engage in sex work are at risk of experiencing violence from numerous perpetrators, including paying partners. Laura Cordisco Tsai et al. moved away from existing literature, which looks at the impact of microfinance interventions on women’s experiences of intimate partner violence, and towards the impact of microfinance among women engaged specifically in sex work and at risk of violence from paying partners. Looking at Mongolia as a case study, Laura Cordisco Tsai et al. concluded that participation in a microsavings intervention did not reduce exposure to paying partner violence despite it reducing the reliance on sex work from income in participants. This is contrary to previous studies that have found microfinance participation to be protective from violence and follow up work is needed to better understand the reasons for this.

Published: 28 October 2016

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Mental Health Laws and Policies in High-Income Countries

Steven J. Hoffman, Lathika Sritharan, and Ali Tejpar

Steven J. Hoffman et al. questioned to what extent the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has an impact on high-income countries. Using Canada as a case study, Hoffman et al. concluded that there remains a divide between the Convention’s goals and the experiences of Canadians with disabilities. Canada’s reservations to the CRPD are seen most prominently through Article 12, on legal capacity for persons with psychosocial disabilities. Though a divide between Canadians and the CRPD does exist, Hoffman et al. remarked that the CRPD has helped to facilitate a larger shift in social and cultural paradigms of mental health and disability in Canada, seen through new legislation in various jurisdictions.

Published: 11 November 2016

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Criminalization of in-call venues and managers on migrant sex workers

S. Anderson, K. Shannon, J. Li, Y. Lee, J. Chettiar, S. Goldenberg, and A. Krüsi

Our final article by S. Anderson et al. looked at the correlation between the impact of criminalization and policing of managers and in-call establishments on HIV/STI prevention among sex workers. Drawing on 46 qualitative interviews with migrant sex workers, managers and business owners, Anderson et al. concluded that criminalization and policing undermine the health and human rights of migrant sex workers working in in–call venues. Criminalization limits the sex workers access to free contraception, sexual health information, and HIV/STI testing. Looking at these results as part of the wider context, this research supports growing evidence-based calls for the decriminalization of sex work in general.

Published: 17 November 2016

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