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Outreach and Education
The Medical Neutrality Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 2643) is a bipartisan bill, largely drafted by PHR, that makes the protection of medical professionals and access to medical services a global policy priority for the US government. The bill also calls for the creation of a UN Special Rapporteur on the Protection and Promotion of Medical Neutrality. Upon introduction, the legislation was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.
This toolkit provides details on the Medical Neutrality Protection Act and actions that can be taken to support its passage. The toolkit also provides a brief introduction to the principle of Medical Neutrality, its foundation in medical ethics and international law, and violations of Medical Neutrality.
A downloadable version of this toolkit is also available:
For the more on PHR’s work promoting the Principle of Medical Neutrality, visit our website .
The Medical Neutrality Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 2643) is a bipartisan bill, largely drafted by PHR, that makes the protection of medical professionals and access to medical services a global policy priority for the US government. The bill also … Continue reading
Health and Human Rights: A Reader , Jonathan Mann, Michael A. Grodin, Sofia Gruskin, and George J. Annas. (1999)
Perspectives on Health and Human Rights , Sofia Gruskin, Michael A. Grodin, George J. Annas, and Stephen P. Marks. (2005)
These texts are often used in health and human rights courses. Both are comprehensive anthologies of foundational essays on health and human rights, and examine issues from ethnic cleansing to women’s reproductive rights.
The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire , Khassan Baiev and Ruth Daniloff. Dr. Baiev was caught in the the struggle between Chechnya and Russia. Regardless of their nationality or whether civilian or military, he treated everybody under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Considered a traitor to both sides, he was called a “bandit-doctor” (for treating Chechens) and a “pig-doctor” (for treating Russians). For years, PHR has worked to protect Colleagues at Risk  – clinicians who are targeted for adhering to their Hippocratic Oath, despite the political situation.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down , Anne Fadiman. Described by various PHR staff as “fantastic,” “riveting,” and “devastating and totally addictive,” this describes the clash of two cultures over a child’s health. Anne Fadiman writes with the insight of an anthropologist and the compassion of a friend. I worked with refugees for years, and I also saw heartbreaking conflict between people who each had a patient’s best interests at heart, but had very different beliefs about illness and health.
Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health , Laurie Garrett. As in another of Garrett’s massive tomes, The Coming Plague, Garrett uses investigative reporting to analyze public health preparedness.
The Bone Woman: A Forensic Anthropologist’s Search for Truth in the Mass Graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo , Clea Koff. Koff takes the reader inside her life as a forensic anthropologist to see what it’s like to excavate mass graves and build evidence of human rights violations. PHR’s International Forensic Program  relies on these skills in Afghanistan, Central America, and elsewhere.
The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals , Jane Mayer. This dramatic narrative reveals the decisions behind the controversial excesses of the war on terror and considers the impact of these choices. For more background and an update, visit PHR’sreports on torture of US detainees.
From Persecution to Prison: The Health Consequences of Detention for Asylum Seekers . Asylum seekers who come to the U.S. to escape torture, persecution, violence or abuse are often locked up in inhuman conditions. PHR conducted the first systematic and comprehensive study about the impact of detention on asylum seekers’ mental health.
Achieving the MDGs by Investing in Human Resources for Health  and The Right to Health and Health Workforce Planning . Access to healthcare depends in large part on the ability and distribution of a country’s health workforce. Investments that sidestep the training, payment and supervision of healthcare workers do not build the overall health system.
Stateless and Starving: Persecuted Rohingya Flee Burma and Starve in Bangladesh . In recent months Bangladeshi authorities have waged an unprecedented campaign of arbitrary arrest, illegal expulsion and forced internment against Burmese refugees. In this emergency report, PHR presents new data and documents dire conditions for these persecuted Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. PHR’s medical investigators warn that critical levels of acute malnutrition and a surging camp population without access to food aid will cause more deaths from starvation and disease if the humanitarian crisis is not addressed.
Health and Human Rights  is published by the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. The original editor-in-chief was Jonathan Mann, succeed by Sofia Gruskin and then Paul Farmer, all pioneers in the field. By posing the question, “What is a rights-based approach to health and why should we care?” this issue began a series that dealt with fundamental concepts regarding health as a human right. Subsequent issues tackle accountability (10:2), participation (11:1), and non-discrimination and equality (11:2). The series concludes with the most recent issue on international assistance and cooperation, edited by Jennifer Leaning, the new FXB director and a former PHR Board member. All material is freely available online.
Health and Human Rights Education in U.S. Schools of Medicine and Public Health: Current Status and Future Challenges , L. Emily Cotter et al. PHR’s Senior Medical Advisor Vince Iacopino and the other authors evaluated obstacles to health and human rights education at schools of medicine and public health across the country.
Health and Human Rights , Jonathan Mann et al. A close look at the complementary ways that health and human rights define and advance human well-being:
- The Impact of Health Policies, Programs and Practices on Human Rights
- Health Impacts Resulting from Violations of Human Rights
- The Inextricable Linkage Between Health and Human Rights
The Challenge of Global Health , Laurie Garrett. Garrett’s critique of misdirected investment in global health got a strong reaction from the media and the global health establishment. Don’t miss the exchange  between Paul Farmer and Laurie Garrett. Although the funding and policy environment has evolved since this was published, it’s a glimpse of a critical moment in global health.
Books Health and Human Rights: A Reader, Jonathan Mann, Michael A. Grodin, Sofia Gruskin, and George J. Annas. (1999) Perspectives on Health and Human Rights, Sofia Gruskin, Michael A. Grodin, George J. Annas, and Stephen P. Marks. (2005) These texts … Continue reading
To help people develop an understanding of the range of reasons that asylum seekers request sanctuary in the U.S., you may host a discussion these case studies. Participants may wish to read these cases ahead of time, or the discussion facilitator may read the profiles one at a time.
Politically persecuted, detained and tortured
This case is for a man in his 30s from Cameroon. The client is seeking a physical and psychological evaluation. In Cameroon, he was arrested and detained on three occasions for his political opinion and association with the Southern Cameroons National Council and human rights activities. His reported physical scars include scars on his head, as well as on his legs and feet from beatings in detention. In addition, he has reported difficulty sleeping, nightmares, nervousness/anxiety, and headaches. He speaks English. The attorney is seeking a completed affidavit by December and will also be requesting oral testimony in January.
Subjected to FGC, forced into marriage, and abused
This case is for a woman in her 20s from Burkina Faso. The client is seeking a psychological evaluation. She is seeking asylum because she was subjected to FGC when she was 5 years old and still suffers from physical pain and emotional trauma from the procedure. When she was 20 she was forced into a marriage by her stepfather, during which she was systematically raped. She is now legally married in the US and has a baby, but fears that if she returns to Burkina Faso she will be forced to return to her marriage, where she will once again be raped. She also fears her daughter will have to undergo FGC.
Gay, HIV positive, and threatened
This case is for a man in his 40s from Jamaica. The client is seeking a psychological evaluation. In Jamaica, his life was threatened because of his sexual orientation and HIV positive status. He and his friends were attacked for being gay. He was forced to be closeted his entire life, and was also in an abusive relationship. His attorney also believes he suffers other non-obvious psychological issues, including extreme anxiety, shyness and panic attacks.
Fleeing domestic violence
This case is for a woman in her late 20s from El Salvador. The client is seeking a psychological evaluation. She has suffered extreme abuse by her common law husband and father of her two children. Since becoming pregnant with her first child, she was subjected to beatings and rapes. He threatened her and told her if she ever left him that he would kill her, also threatening to take away her children. He took one daughter from her and did not return her until the client agreed to go back to him. He was an alcoholic and a drug abuser and would hurt her often when he was drunk or high. The client fled to the US after he beat her one night in front of his friends. She left her children with her mother in El Salvador.
Seeking treatment and dignity
This case is for a woman in her 30s from Nepal. The client suffers from a rare and deadly skin disease, which renders her unable to tolerate sunlight. She suffers from chronic tumors, which are surgically removed on a monthly basis, resulting in massive scarring and the complete loss of her nose. As a result of cultural stigma associated with disability, she was denied schooling at an early age, and she and her siblings (also afflicted) were victims of ridicule and violence. Due to a lack of sophisticated medical care in Nepal, she has only received effective care in the U.S. She has lost one brother to depression, and fears she will fall victim to the same fate is she is returned to Nepal. She speaks Nepali and some Hindi.
To help people develop an understanding of the range of reasons that asylum seekers request sanctuary in the U.S., you may host a discussion these case studies. Participants may wish to read these cases ahead of time, or the discussion … Continue reading
A successful event takes planning, organization, timing, and follow-up. Use this guide for tips on how to produce an effective event.
Events are most effective when they advance your chapter’s overall strategy; they provide great opportunities to recruit members, raise awareness, educate, promote advocacy, and raise funds or materials for the specific issues your chapter has chosen as a focus. Events can also be effective ways of attracting media attention, influencing policymakers, and promoting dialogue on your issue. Agree on your objectives before planning an event.
- After agreeing on your objectives, establish SMART goals. The outcome of your event should be:
Time-bound (fit to deadlines)
- Events can lead to direct action aimed at a social or policy change. If you intend to incorporate an action component, establish specific success objectives.
Examples of Success Objectives:
- Written letter from each chapter member
- Published letter to the Editor, Op-Ed (or other publicity)
- Action by Member of Congress (or other elected official)
- Formation of a coalition
Letters to the Editor
Writing a letter to the editor is a simple but effective way to make your voice heard in the public dialogue about current events and to influence public opinion. Beyond this, policy makers and legislators review their local papers’ letters to the editor to gauge their constituents’ priorities. Letters to the editor should be concise and well-written; state your main assertion in the first few lines of the letter, and be sure to proofread your letter. The letter is more likely to be published if it is written in response to a recent news item, which you should refer to in your letter. Submission guidelines differ, so be sure to follow the guidelines set by the specific publication you wish to publish your letter. To find out how to submit a LTE for your local paper visit their website. The excitement of seeing your name in print and the ability to influence decision makers’ opinions make writing a letter to the editor well worth your while.
Successful events require resources.
What resources may be in reach? Here are a few possibilities (see Develop Resources  for more information):
|Within your PHR chapter||In your community||From PHR|
Build Coalitions/Work With Others
Build power in numbers. Other groups may be happy to work with your chapter on an event and just require a specific ask about how they can help.
- Coalition partners can help with planning, publicity, and participation. Be clear on what type of assistance you need.
- Consider partnering with groups such as: the student council, academic departments, faculty associations, other student organizations from your campus or other schools, community groups and NGO’s.
- Create a timeline with a breakdown of tasks (recruitment, materials, publicity, media, general, etc). Work backwards from the due date of each task to ensure all the components come together in timely fashion.
- Plan out your volunteer needs. You will need people to cover the program, recruitment, registration, set-up, folder-stuffing, copying, greeting media, audio-visual set-up, photographer, etc.
- Delegate responsibilities clearly. If you have enough volunteers, set up work teams. Make event planning fun and express the importance of each person’s contribution.
- Check in regularly with your event team to provide support and ensure they meet their goals and timelines.
Build an Audience & Publicize Your Event
- Set a target number of people you hope will attend the event. Make it an ambitious but reachable goal. Consider whether you are looking for sheer numbers and/or certain people, e.g., health professional students, policymakers, the general public.
- The law of halves: Consider that you will reach about half of the people you call or email. Of the people you talk to or reach by email, about half of those will express interest, and about half of those people will actually come. This means that if you want 100 people, 200 have to say yes. For 200 to have said yes, you must have reached 400 people, and sent out emails or tried calling about 800.
Consider the Four C’s when recruiting prospective attendees: Connect with people in a friendly way; provide the Context of the event and importance of issue; ask for a Commitment; and Common ground (relate the issue or event to the invitee.)
- Start wholesale (group emails/mailings), and end up retail (individual emails, calls, and meetings). Nothing beats individual contact!
- Recruit others to recruit for you. Utilize links from other websites and include event notices in others’ newsletters and emails.
- Publicize your event widely!
Consider: fliers, listservs, tabling, announcements in class, Facebook & Myspace, banners in public spaces, letters to the editor of school paper, announcements in publications, Evite.com, presentations at club meetings, advertising on T-shirts, public service announcements on your local radio station, and asking faculty to announce your event during class.
- Prepare a news advisory to be released ahead of the event and a news release for the day of event (see media training for how to write and distribute these and then do follow up pitch calls).
- Utilizing strong visuals will increase chances of getting media coverage and will provide a visual record of your event.
- Consider preparing and distributing a press kit (see PHR online advocacy toolkit).
- Contact PHR  if you need help getting media attention, and send PHR any media coverage you receive.
- See the guides on Publicizing your Event  and Working with the Media to Raise Awareness  for more information.
Reserving Sites and Preparing Materials
- Reserve a venue well in advance; try to find a good fit for your event (parking and/or public transportation, price, size, neighborhood, convenience).
- Ask everyone presenting at the event what they need ahead of time (slide or LCD projector, etc).
- Be sure the message and appearance of any materials reflect your objectives and are appropriate for your audience. (Very important: contact PHR  regarding guidelines for using the PHR logo before producing materials!) Give yourself enough time for design, printing, distribution, and transporting materials to the venue prior to the event. Do a separate plan/timeline just for materials.
- Have a sign-in sheet  (pdf) to collect names and contacts of the attendees. Send a copy to PHR .
Evaluate & Celebrate
- In a following meeting, have an open Q & A to evaluate the event [What went well? What would you change for the next event?]
- Update contact information.
- Have a post-event celebration with the event team and volunteers.
- Send thank-you cards to all people involved in the event.
- Report your event to PHR . Send pictures and summary paragraph for possible use on the PHR student website.
A successful event takes planning, organization, timing, and follow-up. Use this guide for tips on how to produce an effective event. Brainstorm Events are most effective when they advance your chapter’s overall strategy; they provide great opportunities to recruit members, raise … Continue reading
Gauging your peers’ interest in health and human rights is one of the most important ways to not only show that you value and respect their unique perspectives and experiences, but to also better understand and respond to their needs when designing HHR curriculum.— Mona Singh, Student Chapter Leader, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College
A survey assessing student interest in human rights education can both illustrate popular demand on campus for HHRE and help you publicize your campaign and recruit more supporters amongst the student body.
PHR has created a survey template , which can be personalized to suit your health and human rights education priorities. Virginia Commonwealth University’s Cultural Competency and Interest Assessment  is a good example of a customized survey.
Ideas for circulating the survey:
- Create the survey on Survey Monkey and email the link to all of your classmates and campus listserves
- Post the survey on Facebook or Twitter profiles
- Have a mini pre-class presentation and distribute the survey in classes
- Ask your faculty advisor and their colleagues to email it to their students or pass it out in class
- Go to high-traffic areas on campus and ask students to fill it out
Sample Course Evaluation
Course assessment it crucial to demonstrate that it is an effective class. As you propose a continuation of the curriculum, present this evaluation to exemplify your comprehensive planning and understanding of the needed materials for a formal university course.
PHR has created a basic course evalution template , which can be a key tool in confirming the impact of your course and recognizing the course’s strengths and weaknesses. Columbia University used this Course Evaluation  after their first elective offering
Gauging your peers’ interest in health and human rights is one of the most important ways to not only show that you value and respect their unique perspectives and experiences, but to also better understand and respond to their needs … Continue reading
The following databases provide a variety of educational content for your use in designing and implementing health and human rights courses. All three offer comprehensive resources with many useful educational tools, such as syllabi, teaching modules, and classroom materials.
- PHR has partnered with the University of California, Berkeley to provide health and human rights educational content through Berkeley’s web-based collaboration and learning environment, bSpace .
- Chapter members can access lecture and presentation slides, discussion guides and readings on health and human rights topics ranging from “Human Rights Law and Governing Bodies” to “Medical Ethics in Armed Conflict.” Email The National Student Program Coordinator 
- to get a username and password.
- See the How to Use bSpace  guide for more information on what the site offers.
Visit: bSpace 
Harvard School of Public Health – Health and Human Rights Syllabi Database
- This online database offers health and human rights syllabi from 26 accredited medical and public health universities.
- The courses listed offer a variety of health and human rights focuses and cover a range of issues including law, reproductive health, social activism and fundamental concepts of human rights.
Global Health Education Consortium (GHEC) Modules
- GHEC has developed over 50 comprehensive learning modules  on a range of global health subjects. All of the modules have been created in coalition with student organizations, NGOs and universities as well as being peer-reviewed by faculty and field-tested by students.
- The learning modules can be used for medical, public health, or nursing students and can be self-instructional or an instructor led-course.
- Each module is fully developed and extensive enough to be used as a full course, and include assessment tools at the end.
The following databases provide a variety of educational content for your use in designing and implementing health and human rights courses. All three offer comprehensive resources with many useful educational tools, such as syllabi, teaching modules, and classroom materials. bSpace … Continue reading
Making the syllabus for our HHR course at Washington University SOM was a very natural process that involved a lot of brainstorming which speakers we knew who could give great lectures on HHR topics of interest to us and doing some research to find others who could talk about issues that hadn’t been raised before by student group events. Once we had a list of all the speakers and topics they would address, it was simply a matter of organizing the lectures in a logical order, which really just meant starting with an introductory lecture on the historical context of the notion of a Right to Health, as well as collecting articles and readings that were relevant and of an appropriate depth for the nature of the course.
– Nick Reeves, former chapter leader, Washington University School of Medicine
Three Tips on How to Create a Class Syllabus
By the Washington University PHR Student Chapter
- Start your elective with a class introducing the background and historical context of the notion of a Right to Health, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You should be able to find a professor at an affiliated or nearby University who would be willing to give this lecture without compensation.
- Think of all the lunch lectures or other student group events you’ve attended that have addressed issues pertaining to Health and Human Rights and make a list of all the speakers you would like to invite to give guest lectures on particular topics. Send each potential speaker an email requesting that they give a lecture for your student-organized HHR elective. Most of the speakers will be happy to contribute an hour or two of their time. Then you just need to determine what dates would work best for all the speakers and start filling in the lecture slots.
- Do some research! Search the Internet and websites for various local universities to look for professors/academics who focus on issues pertaining to HHR that you would like to include as topics for your elective. You may be surprised by how many speakers you can find to address topics such as torture by US forces, global health and HIV/AIDS issues, or any other HHR issue that you are passionate about. Then simply contact each potential speaker with an email or phone call requesting that they give a lecture for your student-organized HHR elective.
Sample Student-Created Syllabi
The following syllabi were created by PHR student chapters and are available as a guide and resource. If you have questions for these chapters please email The National Student Program Coordinator  to get in touch with them.
Making the syllabus for our HHR course at Washington University SOM was a very natural process that involved a lot of brainstorming which speakers we knew who could give great lectures on HHR topics of interest to us and doing … Continue reading