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An analysis of the impact of minimum core human rights deprivation on under five mortality

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

Background Most deaths of children under the age of five observed between 1990 and 2010 were due to preventable causes. These causes included poor nutrition, lack of safe water and proper sanitation, lack of access to basic vaccines. Yet, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) protects these rights and the World Health Organisation recognises that the right to health includes the right to these determinants of health. However, the clause ‘progressive realisation’ in the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has left a loophole, allowing deferment of access to basic human rights. In 1989 the concept of a minimum core of human rights was introduced to establish a minimum set of protections. Our objective is to study the effect of deprivation of these rights on the chances of children surviving until they are five years of age and thus enjoying their right to life.

Method In order to gauge the effect of deprivation of human rights on health status, we employed regression analysis. Specifically, we regressed under-five mortality (U5M) on a set of measures of deprivation of minimum core rights while controlling for other known determinants of U5M. The measures of deprivation used are the proportion of the population deprived of; safe water, improved sanitation, primary education, access to basic vaccines and stunting (as a proxy for food).

Results Deprivation of minimum core human rights is associated with increased under-five mortality. All else being equal, a one percentage point increase in the proportion of the population deprived of safe water leads to a 1.5 percentage point increase in under-five mortality rate, while a one percentage increase in the proportion of the population deprived of improved sanitation leads to a 1.3 percentage point increase in under-five mortality rate. A one percentage point increase in the proportion of the population which do not complete primary education and with no access to basic vaccines and leads to, respectively, a 0.6 and 0.3 percent increase in under-five mortality rate. Therefore, where there is reduced access to primary preventative health care services and education, under-five mortality increases. When the proportion of children who are stunted (as a proxy for lack of access to essential food) goes up by one percent, the rate of under-five mortality rises by 0.8 percent.

Conclusions Deprivation of minimum core human rights reduces children’s chances of survival and enjoyment of their most fundamental right, the right to life. Therefore, we recommend that the essence approach to minimum core human rights should be adopted by the international community with immediate effect. In addition, since deprivation of these rights reduces chances of survival, these rights are better described as survival rights.
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Details

Original languageEnglish
PublisherSSRN
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2017

    Research areas

  • Minimum core human rights, Determinants of health, Low and middle income countries, Under-five mortality, Water and sanitation, Primary school education, Basic vaccinations

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