Viewing Health Equity through a Legal Lens: Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 2017, 42(5): 771-788
Authors: Sara Rosenbaum, Sara Schmucker
“Enacted as part of the watershed Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI prohibits discrimination by federally assisted entities on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Indeed, the law is as broad as federal funding across the full range of programs and services that affect health. Over the years, governmental enforcement efforts have waxed and waned, and private litigants have confronted barriers to directly invoking its protections. But Title VI endures as the formal mechanism by which the nation rejects discrimination within federally funded programs and services.”
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Suicide and self-harm in prisons hit worst ever levels

The Guardian, 29 June 2017
Author: Rajeev Syal
“Prisons have “struggled to cope” with record rates of suicide and self-harm among inmates following cuts to funding and staff numbers, the public spending watchdog has said. The National Audit Office said it remains unclear how the authorities will meet aims for improving prisoners’ mental health or get value for money because of a lack of relevant data. Auditors said that self-harm incidents increased by 73% between 2012 and 2016 to 40,161, while the 120 self-inflicted deaths in prison in 2016 was the highest figure on record and almost double that for 2012.”
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Court rules hospital can withdraw life support for sick baby

KFOR, 27 June 2017
Author: Nadia Judith Enchassi
“The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday a hospital can discontinue life support to a baby suffering from a rare genetic disease. Born in August, Charlie Gard has a rare genetic disorder caused by a genetic mutation that leads to weakened muscles and organ dysfunction, among other symptoms, with a poor prognosis for most patients. Charlie is on life support and has been in the intensive care unit at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London since October. His doctors wish to take him off life support, but his parents disagreed.”
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Public Health ordered to use gender-neutral terms

The Guam Daily Post, 16 June 2017
Author: John O’Connor
“The Department of Public Health and Social Services has been ordered by the Superior Court of Guam to update its record system and forms, including birth certificates, so that they are gender neutral. The department will have 30 days from May 31 to enact the changes and will make gender-neutral birth certificates available to same-sex parents who did not receive certificates correctly identifying both of them in the past.”
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Ethics involved in life support decisions remain matter of debate

The Globe and Mail, 15 June 2017
Author: Wency Leung
“When doctors aren’t able to have end-of-life discussions with patients themselves, they often have to approach the delicate subject with the patient’s caregiver or family members. From a doctor’s perspective, these discussions typically involve presenting the evidence of what is known about the situation, what the likely outcomes may be, given that evidence, and most importantly, understanding the patient – what their values are, their expectations and ideology. To make a choice about whether to proceed with aggressive treatment, families should be informed about what those treatments are, the possible risks and benefits and what the ultimate outcomes are.”
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Abortion figures prompt fresh calls for reform of Northern Irish law

The Guardian, 13 June 2017
Author: Amelia Gentleman
“More than 700 women traveled from Northern Ireland to England for an abortion in 2016, obliged to travel because the procedure remains illegal in most circumstances in the region. Figures released by the Department of Health on Tuesday will attract renewed attention to Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion legislation. Terminations are illegal in Northern Ireland unless a woman’s life is in danger or there is a serious risk to her physical or mental health.”
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Polio outbreaks in DRC set back global efforts to eradicate the disease

The Guardian, 15 June 2017
Author: Ruth Maclean
“Two separate outbreaks of polio in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have set back global efforts to eradicate the debilitating disease. The World Health Organisation last week said the virus had also come back in Syria. But the known cases could be just the tip of the iceberg: for every case of polio that is diagnosed, epidemiologists say there are 200 “silent infections” – people who have no symptoms but can pass the disease on to others.”
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Charlie Gard’s parents make emergency appeal to European judges

The Guardian, 9 June 2017
Author: Owen Bowcott
“Established human rights law dictates that the rights of a child should take precedence over the rights of their parent, Hale stressed in her decision. “The child’s interests must prevail,” she said. Lawyers for the child’s guardian appointed by the court have argued against sending Charlie to the US, saying that the proposed treatment would be futile.”
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