Meet Oxana and Pavel Rucsineanu. The couple met and fell in love at a tuberculosis clinic in Moldova. Oxana was cured of her TB, but Pavel found he had developed a form of drug-resistant TB. The drugs that Pavel needed existed, but because of price and Moldovan laws, were unavailable to him. So, the government continued to give him incorrect drugs. Oxana refused to accept this. She began lobbying the Moldovan government to make the right drugs affordable and accessible to Pavel. Within a year, not only was Oxana able to get the correct drugs for Pavel, but she was also able to change Moldovan policies so that others like Pavel could access and afford the drugs as well.
Oxana and Pavel’s story has a happy ending, but the injustices the couple faced are not uncommon. The costs of healthcare are crippling. Health laws remain broken. And millions still die each year from a lack of medicines and basic health services. This is not a health issue. This is not a question of privilege. This is a human rights battle.
At the turn of the millennium, some world leaders sought to address these challenges by creating the Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to alleviate poverty and improve global health by the year 2015. Sure, the MDGs put global health on the map, but have the MDGs been an effective framework for global health? No. World leaders still fail to allocate proper health resources to all citizens, and citizens still fail to understand their rights to healthcare.
We have the opportunity to change this. On Oct. 25, people in hundreds of communities across the globe will come together for the first ever Global Day of Action for the Right to Health. The 25th Article of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights reads, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family,” and on Oct. 25, groups around the world will not only launch local movements to make Article 25 a reality in their communities, but also ignite a global movement for access to proper healthcare to become a universal reality.
This movement comes at a critical moment. Since the U.N. General Assembly meeting last month, world leaders have begun negotiations on a new set of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. The coming months present an opportunity to demand that world leaders make the right to health and universal health care a priority on the global stage. This commitment, made at the highest level, would drive national and local policy agendas over the ensuing years to finally make the right to health a reality.
Fourteen years ago, good intentions were made through the MDGs. Yet, maternal health still suffers. Children go to schools with no desks or supplies. People might not be hungry but they might be malnourished. Programs like The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief supported AIDS treatment, but also promoted abstinence-only education. Good intentions are not good enough. What good is delivering half of the truth? What good is building hospitals when there aren’t doctors to fill them? What good is providing medical equipment if there isn’t proper training? What good is creating medications that aren’t affordable to the people who need them most? What good is failing to address that health is a basic human right? This is a global injustice. This needs to stop. To hell with good — this calls for exemplary.
On Oct. 25, join people like Oxana and Pavel in the fight to make healthcare accessible and affordable in every corner of the world. Empower the world, inspire real change and ignite a movement for the right to health.
Article 25 Public Relations Fellow
Junior, B.S. Global Health 2016