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Race, Racism and the Law 
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Health and HIV-AIDS

NGO Forum, World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban, South Africa, August 27-Sept 1, 2001

This page is part of much larger document. Please be sure to read the Overview, the Declaration-Guiding Principles, Programme of Action-Guiding Principles, and Programme of Action - Legal Measures which provide the context for understanding this page. Click here to Download Word Document.




131. Disadvantaged racial, ethnic and cultural vulnerable groups, Indigenous Peoples, migrants, people discriminated against based on caste, asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced people, especially women, youth, children and people with disabilities face multiple forms of discrimination that result in poor health status, less access to affordable and good health care and lower quality of health services. In particular this has contributed to high rate of maternal mortality amongst women of these groups.

132. We condemn the failure of governments, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector to respond aggressively to the AIDS pandemic which is exacerbated by international racism and reinforced by poverty, discrimination against women and poor health services.

133. Gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disabilities in conjunction with race are often the basis for denial of access to quality, comprehensive, sensible cultural health care, including access to sexual and reproductive heath services.

134. We condemn the unscrupulous practices of the tobacco, alcohol, drug and gun industries in their targeting of disadvantaged communities, particularly the promoting and encouraging of smoking in developing countries.

135. Governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and the international community should ensure that health care providers/practitioners are trained to provide culturally appropriate care; and that members of African and African Descendant communities, indigenous communities and other vulnerable groups are adequately represented as health care providers. In order to assure cultural appropriate care, governments must permit and promote traditional health practices in coordination with traditional healers.

136. Governments and the international community should assure that the health care system is adequately funded, sustainable and effectively monitored; that the sources of funding for health care comes not only from the national government but also from the international community including cancellation of illegitimate debt and decreased military spending.

137. Lack of routine and systematic research on disparities in physical and mental health and inadequate collection of data on the basis of race, gender and socio-economic factors related to health status and health care of vulnerable groups and access to quality health care heighten difficulties in addressing the experiences of racism, social exclusion, and other forms of discrimination in health.

138. We deplore the attitudes and practices of certain international pharmaceutical companies as well as the indifference on the part of the international community that are contributing to the additional prevalence of this genocidal virus, particularly in so far as it affects the African continent and other countries in the developing world exacerbated by conditions of poverty and inequality.

139. Women are at higher risk for HIV infection because of the epidemic of sexual violence against them. Combating HIV/AIDS requires, among other things, that States eliminate legal and practical discrimination against women and girls and prevent, investigate, and punish acts of violence and discrimination against women.

Programme of Action

354. Governments of the developed countries should assure that state of the art medical and health related technology and knowledge is made accessible to developing countries and implement measures to fulfill the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. All governments should provide effective mechanisms to eliminate discrimination in their health care systems and establish effective means of monitoring these systems.

355. Governments should promote and develop prevention and treatment programs for diseases and conditions that disproportionately affect vulnerable groups such as sickle cell anemia, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases. These programs should be developed in conjunction with the private sector (particularly the medical technology and pharmaceutical industry) and should pay special attention to diseases and illnesses in developing countries and eliminate racism and other forms of discrimination in their health care systems. [sentence on racism of international pharmaceutical industry]

356. Governments, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector and the international community, including the World Health Organization, should routinely and systematically collect race, gender and socioeconomic class data related to health status and health care such data should not be limited to census and vital statistics but should include data on access and quality particularly service delivery, diagnosis and treatment, facility availability, provider availability and other related health activities and services. Special attention should be placed on the impact of racial discrimination and to the publication of the data, the results and the conclusion.

357. The Governments of the richest countries of the world should contribute at least $10 billion annually to the UN Global Health Fund to develop and implement comprehensive programs of prevention, treatment and community support to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious disease.

358. In order to effectively address HIV/AIDS, governments must implement a comprehensive, multi-sectoral program consisting of the mutually reinforcing components of prevention, treatment, care, community support and health infrastructure, including culturally sensitive educational programs and specific programs aimed at reducing the vulnerability of women to HIV infection which include encouraging citizens to engage in voluntary testing, and giving special attention to developing countries and vulnerable groups.

359. Governments must direct efforts to eradicate rape and all forms of sexual violence against women. Combating HIV/AIDS requires among other things that States eliminate legal and practical discrimination against women and girls and prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence and discrimination against women. In addition, in coordination with women's rights and human rights groups, and other relevant members of civil society, states should design, fund and implement programmes targeted at increasing women's awareness of HIV/AIDS.

360. To ensure that young people have input in all decisions about their own health, specifically about their sexual and reproductive health, and to provide free health care services to those young people from marginalized groups.

361. Governments should provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS Mother-to-child Transmission Programs that are freely accessible to all. Such programs should involve informed consent, pre and post - test counseling, treatment options, milk formula substitution, and access to support groups.

362. Governments should set up mechanisms that assure the protection of vulnerable groups who participate in research . Those mechanisms should include free and informed consent but must also include other forms that protect vulnerable groups from exploitation

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Always Under Construction!
Copyright @ 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001. Vernellia R. Randall
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