What do human rights have to do with health? If you think about it, quite a lot. Many reasons people don’t access care are a result of human rights violations. These can be anything from a policeman breaking the needle of someone who injects drugs thereby putting them at risk of blood-borne diseases, to someone not wanting to attend a clinic appointment for fear of losing their job. Denying someone health care is itself a violation of a human right.
This was the reason behind a multi-stakeholder meeting held on the 21 and 22 November in Johannesburg. Nearly 100 delegates from civil society organisations around the country gathered to discuss the data on human rights violations and to formulate the steps to generating a national plan that can address them. Completing this task is a critical part of the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs 2017-2022.
TB HIV Care was highly visible at the meeting. CEO, Prof Harry Hausler, presented a case study of how human rights violations impact people who inject drugs, with particular reference to the closing of our needle and syringe programme in eThekwini.
Anna Versfeld and Christian Tshimbalanga, independent consultants working with TB HIV Care, presented the findings of the research they have been doing into the barriers people experience when accessing TB services.
It was an intense two days hearing about how much work we still have to do to address a variety of stigma and structural barriers. We look forward to a plan that will move us towards ensuring that no one is left behind, and that health is accessible to all.