Visit the main HIFA website:

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

HIFA Quotation: 
"We are talking about an access right to information. Apart from the rather vague expression of such a right in the Universal Declaraion 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: 
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Users of healthcare information: 
Author Name: 
Chris Zielinski
Author Organisational Type: 
DGroup URL
Links to the full text of the message and thread in the Dgroups archive; accessible only to HIFA members - join HIFA here (free); request full text by email to
Author profile: 

HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski held senior positions at the World Health Organization for 15 years, at the Geneva headquarters and in the regional offices in Brazzaville (establishing the African Health Observatory), Alexandria, and New Delhi, and earlier in other UN-system organizations - working in translation, editing, publishing, knowledge mmanagement, and intellectual property. He was also Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (providing copyright monies to British writers). Chris was the founder of the ExtraMED project (Third World biomedical journals on CD-ROM), and managed the Gates Foundation-supported Health Information Centres project. With interests in ethics (information, computer and bioethics), Chris has edited numerous books and journals. He left WHO in December 2012,. Current projects include reviving the International Alliance on Information for All, writing a travel book called Afreekinout, and building houses in Zambia. chris AT

Author Country: 
Author Professional Status: 
Name of person(s) who selected this HIFA Quotation: