GUEST COLUMN

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Environmental Health

Meet Our Featured Guest Columnist:
Victor Cid

is a senior computer scientist at the Disaster Information Research Center of the National Library of Medicine.

Q: What does "health and human rights" mean to you?

A: The understanding that open opportunities to live a healthy life and access to health care are fundamental rights. Unobstructed access to humanity's best health information is a powerful enabling tool.

Meet Our Featured Guest Columnist:
Victor Cid

is a senior computer scientist at the Disaster Information Research Center of the National Library of Medicine.

Q: What does "health and human rights" mean to you?

A: The understanding that open opportunities to live a healthy life and access to health care are fundamental rights. Unobstructed access to humanity's best health information is a powerful enabling tool.

Meet Our Featured Guest Columnists:
Mollie Dahlgren, M.D., and Michael Tees, M.D. , M.P.H.

co-founded the Tulane University chapter of the Student Physicians for Social Responsibility during their first year of medical school, in 2004. The group educates students and the local community about environmental health issues in New Orleans. They organize lectures and film screenings, contact government representatives about local environmental hazards, and develop community health programs. After Hurricane Katrina, the organization took part in Project Releaf, planting trees in areas of New Orleans devastated by the storm.


Q: What does "health and human rights" mean to you?

A: There are many aspects of health that we believe should be basic human rights including access to health care, protection from infectious epidemics and natural disasters and clean neighborhoods. Both have dedicated themselves to helping the local community and consider that a healthy environment is a basic human right. A community owns their environment, just as they own their bodies. The environment is not conventionally thought of as something individuals have any control over and conversely, as something that controls individuals. Ambient industrial pollution, for example, is an aspect of modern life that we have come to accept complacently. Yet the effects of industrial pollution can be profound albeit silent and invisible. In order for a community to take ownership of neighborhoods and demand regulation of pollution, first we must raise awareness that pollution exists and secondly that it affects us. The focus of our work has been on raising awareness of how health and environment interconnect in our own neighborhoods.

Meet Our Featured Guest Columnist:
Dr. Paul Farmer

is the founding director of Partners In Health, an international aid organization that combines research, training, advocacy, and direct health care services to help people living in some of the poorest areas of the world. Partners In Health empowers local communities by training local residents as doctors, nurses, and outreach workers and allows the views of local residents to shape the actions of the organization. Dr. Farmer developed programs to provide treatment for tuberculosis and HIV patients in Haiti at a time when many argued that these diseases were too expensive to treat in impoverished communities.

Q: What does "health and human rights" mean to you?

A: Social and economic rights, which include the right to health care, have been termed the "neglected stepchildren" of the human rights movements and held up in opposition to the political and civil rights now embraced, at least on paper, by many of the world's governments. So striking is this division within the rights movements that some have come to refer to social and economic rights--that is, the right to health care, clean water, primary education, a decent livelihood, and other basic entitlements--as "the rights of the poor."