Christina Fetterhoff

Christina Fetterhoff (Center for Economic and Social Rights, Ecuador): Christina was involved with human rights in Latin America long before she undertook her AP fellowship. She lived and studied for six months in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she researched the role of Argentine human rights organizations during the 1976-1982 military dictatorship. She also traveled to Cuba as a delegate for MADRE, a women’s rights and humanitarian aid organization. Christina graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2003 with a B.A. in Political Science. At the time of her fellowship, she was studying for an M.A. in Latin American Studies through Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

The Right to Health

12 Jul

I have been sick for over a week. Living in a new and completely different country has finally caught up to me and my stomach is paying the price. I will not presume that anyone reading this wants to hear details of my ailments-suffice it to say that I spent a lot of time in bed this past week-and when one is sick in bed, there is not much else to do but lay there and think.

So, that’s just what I did. And, coincidentally, CDES sponsored an open letter to Ecuadorian President Gutiérrez that deals with the right to health in Ecuador last week as well. Keeping this in mind, one will perhaps not be surprised to read what I spent my time thinking about.

Medical Treatment:

I went to the doctor. The visit and the farmacy’s worth of pills that he prescribed for me cost $62.55 in total. I was astonished at how inexpensive it was compared to the United States. However, as I have written before, roughly two-thirds of Ecuador’s population lives on incomes of less than $2.00 per day.

What do they do, I asked myself, when they need medical attention? The answer, unfortunately, is that many people simply just do not get it. CDES sees this fact as a violation of the right to health. Poverty, which many, including myself, argue is a violation of each and every one of a person’s basic human rights, has once again reared its ugly head and has prevented Ecuadorian citizens from obtaining the medical help that they need. And this, just for stomach ailments. What happens when someone gets a serious medical condition? What happens when a woman requires Breast Cancer Treatment Services in order to save her life? What about regular checkups after a certain age for certain common types of cancer? Those can be dealt with easily if caught ahead of time, but are quite deadly if one only notices them and treats them on the onset of symptoms. It is health, and lives, what’s on the table as a topic of discussion after all.

Dear Mr. President:

The letter to President Gutiérrez sponsored by CDES dealt more specifically with increasing access to generic drugs-favoring the rights of the consumer over the wishes of multinational farmaceutical companies. Treatment for serious medical problems, such as cancer and HIV, are expensive in the US. One can only attempt to imagine an average Ecuadorian being faced with the task of paying thousands of dollars worth of hospital bills.

The Right to Health:

How, in the end, can we work to ensure the right to health? Perhaps it is obvious to consider that someone being held in prison and not being given proper medications is suffering from a violation of his or her right to health-among others.

But, is it not also true that a government that favors the desires of a multinational corporation over the needs of its citizens is not committing the same crime of conscience as the prison warden? Are the wealthy the only ones who deserve to be healthy? CDES and I would answer the first question with an emphatic YES and the second with an equally emphatic NO!

Posted By Christina Fetterhoff

Posted Jul 12th, 2004

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