Global Public Health
Volume 12, 2017 Issue 10
Non-communicable diseases and human rights: Global synergies, gaps and opportunities
Laura Ferguson, Daniel Tarantola, Michael Hoffmann & Sofia Gruskin
The incorporation of human rights in health policy and programmes is known to strengthen responses to health problems and help address disparities created or exacerbated by illness yet this remains underexplored in relation to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Aiming to understand existing synergies and how they might be further strengthened, we assessed the extent to which human rights are considered in global NCD policies and strategies and the degree of attention given to NCDs by select United Nations human rights mechanisms. Across global NCD policies and strategies, rhetorical assertions regarding human rights appear more often than actionable statements, thus limiting their implementation and impact. Although no human rights treaty explicitly mentions NCDs, some human rights monitoring mechanisms have been paying increasing attention to NCDs. This provides important avenues for promoting the incorporation of human rights norms and standards into NCD responses as well as for accountability. Linking NCDs and human rights at the global level is critical for encouraging national-level action to promote better outcomes relating to both health and human rights. The post-2015 development agenda constitutes a key entry point for highlighting these synergies and strengthening opportunities for health and rights action at global, national and local levels.