Today, December 10, is International Human Rights Day, marking the anniversary of when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document proclaiming “a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations.”
The declaration consists of 30 articles that outline the fundamental human rights that must be protected for all individuals, including the right for health and well-being. Article 25 states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself, and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care…” Although we are continuing to improve healthcare worldwide, not everyone is able to achieve the type of standard described above. The World Health Organization found in 2013 that there are still 100 million people globally who are forced below the poverty line as a result of health care expenses. Vulnerable and marginalized populations bear the undue burden of health problems. For example, refugee populations worldwide are suffering the undue burden of diseases such as malaria.
Our Jewish tradition teaches, “It is not upon you to finish the work, but you are not free to ignore it” (Pirkei Avot, 2:21). As demonstrated by the eradication of malaria in United States in 1951, there are some cases where we can actually finish the work.
The World Health Organization released the annual World Malaria Report yesterday, indicating that of the 106 countries with malaria in 2000, 57 had achieved at least 75% reduction in malaria cases and 18 had received a 50-75% reduction. This has led to six million lives saved as a result of malaria prevention and treatment since 2000. Despite this great progress, there is still much work to be done. Over half the world’s population is still at risk of malaria, and every 60 seconds a child in sub-Saharan Africa dies from this disease. Therefore, we are still not free to ignore this work, because if we do, all our progress will be lost.
As stated in the Human Rights Declaration, all people have a right to health and well-being, and living with the fear of contracting malaria each night when you go to sleep, does not uphold that right. Learn about our partnership with Nothing But Nets and how you join us in the fight against malaria and promote human rights worldwide. Furthermore, ask Congress to support anti-malaria programs by fully funding the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and TB.