Waking governments up to their obligations

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 25 March 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:730
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. London

    What do human rights have to do with health? WHO adviser Helena Nygren-Krug tells Geoff Watts that if people are aware they have rights they can bring about improvements in health care

    Was ever there a speedier conversion? When I set off to meet Helena Nygren-Krug, now in her fourth year as the World Health Organization's adviser on health and human rights, I was sceptical about the value of linking the two issues of health and human rights. It was more a fashionable connection than a helpful one, I suspected. Half an hour later I'd more or less changed my mind.

    Swedish by birth and Anglo-American by education, Nygren-Krug trained as a lawyer at the London School of Economics, did a master's degree in human rights, and then moved to Harvard to continue studying human rights law. Now aged 35, she has worked in the United Nation's Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, and she also spent three years at the Carter Center in Atlanta, the human rights and healthcare charity founded by President Carter. “At the centre there was a move towards bringing the two [health and human rights] together,” she says. “It was in that context that my interest arose.”

    Being married to a public …

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