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HIFA-Watch: Promoting an understanding of health information as a human right (2)

HIFA Quotation: 
"May I express my personal interest in your chosen topic - the rights aspect of health information. We are talking about an access right to information. Apart from the rather vague expression of such a right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 19), this is nowhere embodied in law. There is no such right granted under copyright - the exceptions granted in all national laws and international treaties (for "fair use" in some jurisdictions and "faIr dealing" in others, for citation/quotation, "study", etc.), are small chinks in a fairly forbidding edifice."
"One exception - gained in the Paris Revisions of the Berne Convention in 1971 - was a statutory license allowed for translation of materials into local languages for "educational use". This permission - which allowed (say) Indonesia to translate health information published in Western textbooks or elsewhere into Bahasa Indonesia - was almost never applied in any country. Nor has it been updated into the digital age, unlike most of the rest of Berne. This is a specific permission which I feel should be fought for."
"Among other things, the definition of "educational materials" in the original Paris Revisions provides a clear pointer to a definition of "essential information" (an old hobby horse of mine, which got included in the UNESCO declaration on Multiligualism and Cyberspace) - practical information which is essential for human development, human survival, etc. In short, information which cannot be withheld. Our rather loose definition of "health information" needs to be tightened up. Surely we are not seeking to have confidential health information opened up to public scrutiny; we don't need to know about cosmetic surgery, nanomedicine or DNA research: when we say "health information" we mean "essential health information" - exactly as we (or rather, the World Health Assembly) defined "essential drugs"."
Date of HIFA message: 
Sunday, March 2, 2014
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Author Name: 
Chris Zielinski
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HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski spent over 20 years in publishing and language services in the UN system (mainly WHO and FAO), working in Africa, Asia and Europe. Among his earlier activities in health information are ExtraMED (CD-ROMs containing scanned images of over 300 biomedical journals published in the developing world), and the Health Information for Development Project (a Gates-Foundation funded capacity building and networking project). Chris is currently working for the WHO Regional Office for Africa, based in Brazzaville, Congo, where he is Coordinator the African Health Observatory and Managing Editor of the African Health Monitor zielinskic AT

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