The world is in the midst of a multiplicity of crisis, above all a `crisis of ideas.` We need a paradigmatic shift, an overall economic change, Dr. Sara Cook, Director, UN Research Institute for Social Development strongly emphasized in today`s opening keynote address at the 20th triennial World Conference of the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE).
There are more than 1000 delegates from around the world sharing ideas and discussing important issues about health and life quality for the next four days in Geneva, 'the capital of health.' Contrary to the dominant neoliberal market model and its focus on economic growth voices that call for an alternative development agenda can be heared. A model that integrates social factors and is based on concepts such as equity and environmental sustainability.
Paul Hunt (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health 2002-2008) in his keynote address analyses the pressing questions in global health from the legal perspective. Mr Hunt reminds the audience that the right to health in many countries still is the best kept secret even though it is legally binding as part of international law. One of the core obligations of governments is to achieve the highest attainable standard of health for all people. However there are `deep pockets of poverty in seas of plenty.` These are the disadvantaged individuals or e.g. indigenous groups in all regions of the world. Issues of neglected diseases mainly affecting these neglected people, Mr Hunt stresses, demand an integrative health system that involves the communities and focuses on a vertical approach. The human right to health has to be used as a tool to hold governments and other (inter)national actors as well as the private sector accountable. It is not an ethical imperative it is about human rights concerning all of us committed to social justice.