Just a few weeks ago, GlobeMed’s National Office revealed the globalhealthU curriculum for the 2012-2013 academic year. The theme for this year: Expanding the Dialogue on Health and Human Rights. On Sunday, our ghU coordinators, Nicole Dussault (CC 2014) and Conner Fox (CC 2014) introduced the curriculum to our chapter, and began what will be a two semester long dialogue on health and human rights by examining our chapter members’ own beliefs. Posing the question “What human right is the most important?”, members were asked to defend their choices of certain values over others. Several members emphasized freedom of speech or choice as the most important right; others countered that without health or nourishment, such rights would hold little value. A majority of members believed education to be the most important right; however, others pointed out that if a person is too sick or hungry to attend school, even a free education would be negatively impacted. The conclusion of these discussions, was that human rights are often very interconnected.
This led to a group discussion of the definition of human rights. One GlobeMedder suggested that “the right to pursue happiness and success” served as an all-encompassing definition of human rights. However, as the coordinators pointed out, the right to individual happiness is a very Western ideal. Many cultures place responsibility to family or societal duties above the desires of the individual; in essence, the definition of “happiness” and “success” varies quite broadly in different cultural contexts. How then can we define “human rights” in a universal context? The discussion of and potential answers to this question are sure to come in the following weeks with the start of ghU Track 1: Why do human rights exist?
At the end of the lesson we listened to Pamela Angwech, Executive Director of GWED-G, discuss why health should be a human right. She said because without health, people can’t be productive contributors to society. Therefore, everyone should have good health, regardless of wealth or status. As the year continues we will hear more inspirational quotes from both Pamela and the rest of the GWED-G staff; keep a look out for our GWED-G and GROW updates throughout the year!