UNDP assist countries revise inimical laws on health and rights – Report

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with its UN and civil society partners have helped 89 countries revise their laws to protect people’s health and rights in relation to HIV, TB and Hepatitis B, says a new report. 

These successes the report said included HIV criminalisation laws being repealed in Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, Mongolia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and at least two US states.

The new report comes on the eve of the biannual global AIDS conference, which is taking place in Amsterdam and monitored by the Ghana News Agency.

The report warned that shrinking civil society space due to government crackdowns was hampering the HIV response as marginalized groups were seeing key health services cut off.

The fight against HIV, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis will only be won if civil society was empowered and able to provide services, mobilize for justice and hold governments accountable.

It noted that leaders were taking steps to address gender inequities to bolster the rights of women and girls who were disproportionately affected by HIV.

The report cited Tunisia as a country which recently passed a law to end violence against women in public and private life, and Jordan and Lebanon have strengthened legislation on marital rape.

It said access to health care was being prioritized with emphasis on emerging illnesses that targetted people vulnerable to HIV, including Portugal instituting universal access to Hepatitis C treatment in 2015, and France following suit in 2016. 

A court ruling in India led the Government of India to change its policy on who was eligible for tuberculosis treatment.

The report said governments were taking steps to protect the rights of vulnerable groups in Canada, Colombia, Jamaica, Norway and Uruguay and have decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis and Jamaica erased the criminal records of low-level drug offenders.

It noted that the success and sustainability of the global HIV response will be determined in large part by urgent action on laws and policies. 

The Global Commission on HIV and the Law called on governments and leaders around the world to institute effective laws and policies that protected and promoted the rights of people affected by HIV and its co-infections. 

The report said the future will be determined by legal environments that drove universal health and human dignity.

Source: GNA

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