Friday, June 4, 2010

Social Medicine as Human Rights Praxis


As HR activists working in health, we face a double challenge. We must work for fundamental economic, social and political changes underlying what we know as the social determinant of health and, at the same time, we must work on changes in the specific field of health where additional localized resistance (often by doctors) is to be reckoned with. We thus need to set-up networks –not forgetting the health workers, organized or not– to integrate our health and our human rights (HR) aims in what will inevitably become a political challenge.

Actually, it is the HR-based framework that contains the powerful ideas; ideas that are at odds and counter neoliberal ideology, ideas that are a counter-power to the prevailing market forces –and, let’s face it, that is why the spreading of the HR idea is opposed. The powers-that-be fear HR as they entail an emancipatory praxis, a praxis that eventually is a counter-hegemonic force against globalization. The HR-based framework legitimizes power in the hands of claim holders, away from male, adult, middle and upper-class property owners. In so doing, the HR framework confers on rights holders a legitimate claim on the resources necessary to fulfill specific HR –and that is feared. HR are ultimately the legal expression of a collective will –and that is feared. Moreover, the HR-based framework prioritizes dignity and solidarity over accumulation, over competition, and over the market, as well as the inclusion of environmental rights –and that is feared. (I think I am not being harsh in my analysis here; I am just calling a spade, a spade)

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