Our Work

Education

 

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. 

Research

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: 

  • Health rights and HIV law Research was carried out in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and 13 States in the US focusing on the correlation between HIV-specific state laws and the disclosure of HIV serostatus. This helps assess the extent to which there are gender, sexual orientation, and racial differences in HIV-related risk factors (e.g. needle sharing, unprotected sex) and access to health care (HIV testing services, HIV testing results, and HIV treatment).
  • Chronic epidemiology Research centered on HIV, Hepatitis B virus (HBV), HCV, and MDR-TB. Whereas HIV/AIDS has changed as a chronic disease due to advanced medications, there is the need to focus on comorbidity and care looking at synergistic effects between disease and social support on functional disability in people living with HIV (PLWH), determinants of unmet social needs in PLWH, and the assessment of the long-term care needs of the aging HIV population. 
  • Health economics and human rights The co-founders have led major cross-country studies of 162 countries, one on women’s economic and social rights and sustainable development, and the other on the correlation between human rights promotion and protection of health. Regarding health systems, interest has centred on health reform and health devolution especially in relation to the access to HIV services for people who inject drugs (PWID), sex workers, transgenders and LGBTIQs to understand how devolution has affected their knowledge, behavior, access, and susceptibility to HIV. 
  • Social and behavioral factors Interest has centered on the social and demographic factors associated with injecting drugs, HIV, HCV and drug-resistant TB among PWID. Concerning health care delivery attention has been given to the association between HIV treatment and TB drug resistance on TB treatment outcome among Kazakh TB/HIV patients and factors associated with linkage to care for HIV patients in Tajikistan which was the first ever country study addressing this.
  • HIV prevention has looked at harm reduction and Pre-Exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Their studies have shown that PrEP promotion may undermine safe sex. There is also a debate on whether to include teenagers into PrEP (Truvada). Their research has shown that current forms of PrEP to not be safe enough hence the need to identify new drugs.
  • Immigration health included supervision of a study on the association between Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB), HIV/AIDS and immigrant populations and another study on the onset of drug use during transnational migration and its association with active injecting drug use in Afghanistan. Another area of work has addressed how to build up trust between immigrants and law enforcement  
  • Health disparity Whereas one of the vulnerable populations for HIV are street gang members, there have been no published studies tracking HIV status among them and most countries do not gather any national data on them. The co-founders have called for further evidence-based intervention for HIV prevention to consider them as key populations.

Policy and Advocacy

 

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:

  • Drug policy reform - Turkey
  • HIV policy for key populations - Tajikistan
  • HIV, Drug and Health policy for women - Iraq
  • HCV policy and devolution- Pakistan
  • Drug policy - Afghanistan 
  • Drug, HIV and Health policy - Iran
  • HIV policy for prisoners - El Salvador

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.

Implementation

 

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.