News release: Dr Chris van Tulleken calls for attention to rights when delivering health care in the developing world.10 December 2008
London, Friday 12 December 2009 - On Wednesday night, the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Dr Chris van Tulleken, Patron of the medical aid agency Merlin, Honorary Lecturer at UCL, Registrar in Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine at University College Hospital, and a co-presenter of the recent Channel 4 series ‘Medicine Men Go Wild', called for a more equitable rights-based approach to delivering aid for public health in developing countries.
Speaking at the 2nd annual lecture on Malaria and Human Rights, organised by Malaria Consortium, a member of the European Alliance Against Malaria, Dr van Tulleken highlighted the critical need to ensure community engagement and understanding when delivering health services. Unless community participation is ensured, he argued, then delivering health services like malaria treatment may have unintended consequences.
Drawing on experience working in Burma after Cyclone Nargis and in Congo Brazzaville, Dr van Tulleken highlighted the key components of a rights-based approach to delivering aid for public health, emphasising that interventions should not only be participatory, but also context-specific, non-discriminatory, accountable, accessible to the poorest and of high quality. "There is a clear need to address the needs of the individual while trying to optimise wellbeing for communities. We should not impose rights frameworks - if they may jeopardize the autonomy of indigenous peoples, for example - but we should be bound to inform those with whom we work of their fundamental rights and deliver care based on our duties and not beneficence" he said.
In his summing up, the Chair, Sunil Mehra, Executive Director of Malaria Consortium, said that "equality and dignity are at the core of what our response as health care actors in the developing world should be."
The Lecture was attended by representatives from human rights organisations, academia, media, international humanitarian and development NGOs and the private and public sectors.
Notes to Editors
Malaria Consortium is an organisation dedicated to improving the delivery of prevention and treatment to combat malaria and other communicable diseases in Africa and Asia. More information at http://www.malariaconsortium.org/
The European Alliance Against Malaria is a group of civil society organisations from Brussels, France, Germany, Spain and UK all working in the field of global health and development. The Alliance's members aim through advocacy to increase funding and improve malaria programmes, demanding rigorous and resolute action to fight malaria as part of global efforts to reduce poverty and meet the MDGs. More info at http://www.europeanallianceagainstmalaria.org/
A transcript of Dr van Tulleken's speech will be available soon at http://www.malariaconsortium.org/
For more information, contact Karl Deering, Malaria Consortium's Advocacy Manager: [email protected]