In the area of education itself, the IIHE’s work can be subdivided into three areas.
The first is health education. The IIHE contributes to health education - whether in (i) encouraging the more effective focus of the medical profession on niche health concerns and key populations, (ii) advancing the training of other health care providers, such as frontline actors in relation to specific neglected health areas such as mental health, or (iii) public health education through social media. It pursues all of the above in a manner which is informed by a human rights framework. It has further innovated the opportunity of “health diplomacy” or health as a platform for advancing societal understanding and dignity for all its members.
The second is human rights education. The IIHE founders have led a number of projects advancing human rights that intersect with the right to health. These have included those concerned with the environment and sustainable development.
The third is the right to education itself. The IIHE has sought to not only enable opportunities to those denied further education due to discriminatory laws and policies but also to facilitate innovative educational opportunities for health professionals. In Syria, for example, this has assisted medical students and health care providers to advance their medical training and better serve the population.
The delivery of medical higher education in conflict zones is a unique humanitarian initiative to benefit the wider community. The IIHE has excellent experience in this regard and is developing a humanitarian program to deliver online health science and STEM courses to 500 displaced Syrian medical students who are in Syria and border countries in Arabic. These medical professionals and students are highly motivated to continue their pursuit of higher education during displacement in service to the Syrian population.
The research carried out by IIHE founders and their collaborators has served as the backbone to the IIHE approach and this research can be summarised under seven subheadings:
IIHE engages key stakeholders in conservative social settings on how to better protect and promote the rights of key populations such as refugees, women, prisoners, drug users, sex workers and LGBTIQs. It has done so with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia, including:
The Institute’s health policy work is a call to action to all those who shape health policy to remain aware of the needs of those who suffer
most in society. Enacting new laws, more effective policies or the development of new guidelines can better protect the rights and well-being of vulnerable populations.
The IIHE advocacy has focused, on the one hand, on promoting the rights of key populations using the framework of the right to health and, on the other, advocating for health and human rights defenders or for those affected by HIV/AIDS and drug policies. It has pursued the latter in collaboration with other organisations such as Physicians for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The Institute thrives on networking and collaboration and has been able to spotlight its mission via guest lecturing, joint publications, media appearances and coverage and award recognition. The Founders and staff are always eager to share their work, and invite all interested organizations to contact the Institute to arrange for lectures or workshops.
The IIHE advances health and human rights through its unique approach which is inclusive, comprehensive and particularly effective in conservative social settings.
It implements its vision in a manner which allows previously reluctant stakeholders to lend their support to the protection of the rights of disadvantaged and underserved populations, most of whom have previously been excluded from protection.
This profound and comprehensive right to health approach to advancing human rights for high risk groups suffering tremendous social stigma, and doing so in unfavourable social and political contexts but with a deep engagement of a wide range of actors throughout society, serves as the hallmark of the IIHE approach. Through its step-by-step approach it is able use health to spearhead the advancement of all human rights with respect to these populations.