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Promoting Public Health through Clinical Legal Education: Initiatives in South Africa, Thailand, and Ukraine

By: Tamar Ezer, Ludmylla Deshko, Nicola Gunn Clark, Enga Kameni, Bruce A. Lasky

The law can be a powerful tool in protecting public health.  Studies reveal both the impact of human rights viola-
tions on health1 and the importance of interdisciplinary partnerships for the law to achieve its full potential and lead to justice.  As one scholar describes, “Human rights are increasingly recognized as important to providing social conditions in which people can be healthy.”  Additionally, as one law clinic instructor explains, “A multidisciplinary model can respond to the myriad needs of those who are poor or marginalized by their social, medical, or psychological circumstances.” Clinical legal education has a critical role to play in training advocates capable of working at the intersection of law and health.

This paper presents the pioneering work of four clinical legal education programs that have partnered with the Law and Health Initiative of the Open Society Institute’s (OSI) Public Health Program.  In Thailand, the Chiang Mai University Legal Clinic has authored an HIV/AIDS Community Legal Education Manual and is piloting an HIV/AIDS and human rights educational program in prisons, detention centers, and village community centers servicing ethnic minorities.  In South Africa, students from the Universities of Witwatersrand and Cape Town have conducted workshops on will-writing, debt, and family law for hospice caregivers and nurses working with palliative care patients.8 In Ukraine, students at the Donetsk National University Medical Law Clinic have provided legal consultations and representation for patients whose human rights were violated in the delivery of health care. And at the University of Pretoria, Master of Laws students drafted a submission to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights requesting both recognition of access to medicines as an essential component of the right to health and a process to ensure implementation.9

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Uploaded on: Dec 16, 2015
Last Updated: Dec 17, 2015
Year Published: 2010
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