Author Archives: lyonsabby

Often we don’t think about how policy outside of healthcare can have major impacts on our health. This becomes a question of rights to an environment in which one can live a healthy lifestyle, rather than the rights to healthcare access. We don’t always realize how environmental factors that are often determined through politics and policy can either fail to address or create the health issues that then need to be addressed through healthcare. These policies have a broad scope from FDA approval of chemicals and ingredients used in medicines and food, to amounts of fumes and pollutants allowed, to school lunches, and much, much more. However, for the moment I would like to focus on the policies surrounding drinking water quality, especially in the New York region.
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On April 11th 2012, the FDA finally took a step in the direction of protecting humans from the build-up of drug resistant bacteria.

Many don’t like to admit that bacteria are often smarter than even our best scientists. But the truth is that for every antibiotic we create, a stronger and more drug resistant strain of bacteria is generated.

NYTimes journalist Gardiner Harris writes, “Using small amounts of antibiotics over long periods of time leads to the growth of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs’ effects, endangering humans who become infected” (The New York Times). The New York Times also gives the estimate that 99,000 people die each year from infections they contracted at a hospital, and that the majority of these are due to resistant strains of bacteria.

Despite all of the research and data that has been collected, the US has done very little to cut back on the unnecessary use of antibiotics, specifically in the meat industry. Are we naively allowing industries interest to threaten the health of our entire population and especially of future generations?

The meat industry has been routinely including antibiotics in healthy livestock’s feed and water since the realization that it induced phenomenal growth.

One of the reasons antibiotics are not sold over the counter for human use is to reduce unnecessary use of such drugs that can create resistant strains of harmful bacteria. Until this April, however, there was hardly any regulation of antibiotic use for livestock.

The FDA announced on April 11th that in order for livestock to be given antibiotics, the antibiotics would need to be prescribed by a veterinarian. This was a victory in helping to preserve humans right to health. However, many more steps towards eliminating unnecessary antibiotic use are needed. Some are also concerned that both the meat and antibiotic industries will hold off making any changes in hope that the administration after the upcoming election will change the policy.

I am curious to see if people think this is a human rights issue where the government is failing to protect our right to health, or if people feel this is simply a policy issue.


It is interesting that as we discuss in class whether or not healthcare is a basic human right or if it is more of a civil right, the US Supreme Court is debating whether or not government can require people to purchase healthcare insurance, thus in some ways requiring them to access healthcare. After our discussions in class it seems crazy that anyone would try to interfere in the providing of better health. The greatest concern is that if the individual mandate is struck down, it is quite possible that the rest of the Affordable Care Act will have to be done away with as well. If this happens the United States healthcare system will be in great disarray and healthcare will become even harder to access and afford in the United States. Please view the video link below for a synopsis of the court hearings today.

Affordable Healthcare Act Debate

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Is it a violation of a human right not to be taught the accurate way to use a condom, when this basic health-related information could help prevent many STIs including HIV/AIDS?

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights writes in its report “The Right to Health,” that “the right to health contains entitlements. These entitlements include: The right to a system of health protection providing equality of opportunity for everyone to enjoy the highest attainable level of health; The right to prevention, treatment and control of diseases;  Access to essential medicines; Maternal, child and reproductive health; Equal and timely access to basic health services; The provision of health-related education and information; Participation of the population in health-related decision-making at the national and community levels.”

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