WHO is not looking after your health!
For almost a year, an item about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) health has been denied entry to the agenda of the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board meeting. The item is simple: “improving the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons.” Deliberately unfortunate, countries belonging to the AFRO (Africa) and EMRO (Eastern Mediterranean) regions have been repeatedly refusing to even discuss this item, let alone add it to the WHO agenda.
International health and human rights organizations, including the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH), congregated and have been discussing over the past year the best approach to tackle this issue. For all this time, the work has been done in secret and was especially kept away from the media. After diplomacy efforts did not lead to inclusion of the item on the agenda, a decision was made to bring the issue to the public’s attention in order to rally organizations, especially in the global south and the EMRO and AFRO regions to get involved.
The main problem posed is unequal access to health care for LGBT individuals. People who express their sexual orientation, their gender identity, and their sexuality are more-often-than-not denied health services and are subject to harassment, shame, physical and verbal violence, and sometimes arrests. Some expose themselves to “underground” care and often put their lives at risk as a result.
Other consequences of such discrimination include cases of depressions, substance abuse, and disregard to STI protection and prevention.
A petition (to be signed by organizations) is circulating the net today, urging Director-General of WHO Dr. Margaret Chan to push for a continued dialogue regarding these issues and to encourage the EMRO and AFRO regions to take them into consideration. Furthermore, it demands further studies and researches to be conducted on LGBT health services.
This petition needs our signatures. Follow the link below, read it, sign, and spread the word to ensure a safe and healthier environment for our fellow LGBT. Quoting Dr. Hasan Abdessamad, a human rights activist and president of LebMASH, who has written about this issue today:
Health care is a right, we should not allow it ever become a privilege.
Sign Your Organization Here: http://www.msmgf.org/index.cfm/id/65/alert_id/21 before March 10 2104.
Sign On for WHO Consensus on LGBT Health!
Dr. Margaret ChanDirector General World Health Organization Avenue Appia 20 1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland
Dear Madam Director General:
We, the undersigned civil society organizations from all regions of the world, respectfully write to you today to show our support for the complicated work you have undertaken of finding consensus on how to discuss issues related to access to health for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. We are dismayed that the topic has become so contentious and difficult to discuss, but we write to encourage you to persevere and bring these very important and appropriate health concerns to the work of the World Health Organization.
We represent a variety of health, HIV, human rights, and LGBT organizations which all work in some manner on the real impact of discrimination against individuals based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. This discrimination is rampant in all of our societies, despite differences of culture, economics, politics, or legal status of homosexuality. Such discrimination directly impacts the health outcomes of these communities. Whenever any group of people—no mater how marginalized—experience disparate health outcomes, that is of legitimate interest to the WHO and deserves to be studied and understood fully. We appreciate that you have personally taken the time to ensure that the Executive Board of the WHO will address these issues appropriately.
As you know, reports from every region of the world show that LGBT citizens lack equal access to health care, and experience real discrimination based on exposing their sexual orientation, sexuality, gender identity, gender expression, or bodily diversity in health care settings. Such discrimination takes many different forms including outright denial of services, harassment, embarrassment, violence and arrest, as well as internalized stigma and shame. Such experiences lead directly and indirectly to bad health outcomes, such as higher incidents of depression, drug and alcohol use, lack of HIV prevention and treatment, and even suicide. Cancer-related health disparities for lesbian women have been indicated in a variety of studies, and transgender individuals receive particularly poor or no appropriate health services specific to their needs.
We write today to encourage continued dialogue and discussion of these important health matters, and to make sure that the item does not get permanently postponed or deleted from the agenda of the Executive Board. We further urge the Secretariat of WHO to engage in further study and research on the health outcomes for LGBT communities in all parts of the world, since a disproportionate amount of existing data comes from Global North countries. It is imperative that the WHO encourage thoughtful and unbiased study in all regions of the world.
This is an important moment in the evolution of global health to address the particular health challenges of LGBT populations. This is indeed a critical next step for WHO to help improve the vital and universal access to health for LGBT people.
Should there be anything we can do to support this effort, please let us know.
With respect and hope for a healthier world,
SIGN ON HERE: http://www.msmgf.org/index.cfm/id/65/alert_id/21/
By Steph El-Haddad for Raynbow.info