HIFA-Watch: How governments are meeting their legal obligations on access to healthcare information

21st February 2013

A few weeks ago we published a White Paper: Access to Health Information Under International Human Rights Law, in collaboration with the New York Law School. This analysis concluded that governments are obliged under international human rights law to realise progressively the rights of citizens and health professionals to the healthcare information they need to protect their own health and the health of others.

We are today launching “HIFA-Watch” to recognise and highlight actions by governments worldwide that promote or restrict the availability of healthcare information.

We start with a positive example from Sindh Provice, Pakistan, where the provincial government has just passed legislation to restrict misinformation from commercial infant formula milk manufacturers

A negative example is provided by the case of HIV/AIDS policy of the South African Government in the early 2000s. The Late Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who was health minister of South Africa under Mbeki, was ‘infamous for her unscientific promotion of garlic and beetroot for HIV treatment’, and her policies ‘led to the unnecessary deaths of over 300 000 South Africans (who were denied antiretroviral medicines)’, according to editorials in The Lancet in 2008 and 2009. It should be noted that the current South African government has been widely congratulated on its health policy, including its delivery of antiretroviral treatment to those who need it.

Join HIFA2015 and share your experiences. We shall collate these on an ongoing basis on the HIFA-Watch web page.

Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator
On behalf of the HIFA Steering group