SPH 2010 Symposium– Health and Human Rights: Reframing the Public Health Agenda


Katie Sloter

Katie Sloter


Yesterday was the Health and Human Rights: Reframing the Public Health Agenda symposium. If you are currently in the School of Public Health, there is a 97.84 percent chance you attended said conference. I am always simultaneously encouraged and discouraged when considering human rights. I am discouraged by the lack of enforcement mechanisms in peacekeeping activities, and the inherent despair in the atrocities that human beings continue to perpetrate against one another. One of my undergraduate majors was International Studies: Global Health and Human Rights. It can be frustrating to learn and recognize the depth of pain in the world, and not know how to respond to something so vast.

However, even in discussing torture, land-mines, devastating natural disasters—I see a glimpse of humanity in the fact that there are those who still respond, and strive to turn rhetoric into action. Every professional at the symposium has seen that something needs to be done to give voice to the most vulnerable people in our world. They have seen that sitting back and watching is unacceptable; and so they have devoted their lives and careers to removing what despair they can and adding what joy they can. This is, after all, the reason I decided to go into Public Health in the first place. Knowing that there are those striving to provide relief to sufferings gives me a sense of camaraderie and hope. As individuals we cannot win against the vastness that are human rights violations, but as a collection of professionals in medicine, law, education, economics, public health we can try. I would like to thank you who have chosen to strive for the ideals that should be reality. I am inspired by you, and I hope that we can encourage each other in this.

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