Head of Programme: Professor Leslie London
The Health and Human Rights Project was started in 1997 as part of a collaboration between the School of Public Health and Family Medicine and the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture, a human rights NGO in Cape Town. The project initially focused on supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Health Sector hearings, and its mandate to facilitate the promotion of human rights in the health sector more broadly. The initial work with the TRC has subsequently given way to a broader set of human rights teaching, research and advocacy activities and the development of the Health and Human Rights programme (HHRP) within the School of Public Health and Family Medicine. Much of the work of the HHRP continues through collaboration with human rights NGO’s, other research and training institutions and human rights activists within and outside South Africa.
The Health and Human Rights Programme conducts research and teaching at the interface of Public Health and Human Rights. This is a growing interdisciplinary field attracting increasing international attention for its contributions to strengthening health systems and providing voice to marginalized communities and groups. The programme intends, through it work, to strengthen public health competencies in human rights and to strengthen community agency to changes the factors that adversely impact on their health and rights.
Please take some time to explore the information in our website. You can find information on the courses we teach and the research we do on the programme's webpages, and the links to the Learning Network for Health and Human Rights (LN), a civil society-researcher partnership which the programme hosts.
Health and Human Rights Programme
School of Public Health and Family Medicine
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town
Tel: +27 21 406 6524
Fax:+27 21 406 6459
Email: Leslie London
Training health professional students in human rights is increasingly recognised as critical for producing graduates able to incorporate social justice and equity into their practice.
The Health and Human Rights programme ran a 5 day short course in Health and Human Rights targeting teachers of students in the health professions from 1998 through to 2013. The course trained over 250 academic staff and health professionals responsible for teaching in a range of institutions across South Africa and the African region and provided them with tools, skills and ideas for how to mainstream human rights in their teaching. You can download the manual used for teaching here and adapt it for use in your own context. Although the course has been discontinued, the materials are still freely available for use and adaptation under a Creative Commons copyright license – share and share alike.
Various commentaries and publications have emerged from this work, including:
Ewert EG, Baldwin-Ragaven L, London L. Training Trainers in Health and Human Rights: Implementing curriculum change in South African health sciences institutions. BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:47. This publication evaluated the training offered and found evidence that trainees had managed to implement curriculum change in their institutions following the training courses.
Other opinion pieces include:
London L, Baldwin-Ragaven L, Kalebi A, Maart S, Petersen L, Kasolo J. Developing human rights competencies for South African health professional graduates. S Afr Med J 2007; 97: 1269-1270.
L London, Baldwin-Ragaven L. Human rights and health: Challenges for training nurses in South Africa. Curationis 2008; 31: 5-18.
London L. Human Rights: A professional responsibility and an institutional obligation. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy 2008; 38: 1.
The Division of Public Health Medicine runs a module on Public Health and Human Rights on the MPH programme (PPH7053) which aims to equip MPH graduates with an understanding of the place of human rights in developing and assessing health policies. MPH students may also choose a human rights topic for their MPH dissertation under supervision.
The HHRP has also taken on dissertation-only students (M Sc and PhD) conducting their research on health rights topics.
Train-the-Trainer Class of 2013
Research in the HHRP has been in four areas:
Understanding and developing better practice for the realisation of the right to health for communities. The HHRP has worked regionally through the Network on Equity in Health in East and Southern Africa (EQUINET) and locally through the Learning Network for Health and Human Rights (LN) to identify good practice for the right to health. The latter work has focused in recent years on community participation and health committees as vehicles for the realisation of the right to health.
Research with vulnerable groups to reduce their vulnerability such as the Deaf:
Toolkit on the Right to Health
The Toolkit on the Right to Health was designed in response to the need for a practical tool to empower communities on what the right to health means, how to identify violations of health rights and how to respond to these violations. It can be used as a stand-alone source of information or as training tool for workshops on the right to health. To download the Toolkit on the Right to Health click here
Right to Health Pamphlets
Inguqulelo Yesi Xhosa
A Special Noon Meeting Seminar was held on 12 March 2015 by Professor Fons Coomans and Dr Helen Cox on The Right to Benefit from Scientific Progress and Access to Medicines for Drug Resistant TB