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Presentation by Environmental Law Centre

Presentation by Environmental Law Centre. @ MCS International Conference Cecil Sharpe House, London 2 nd & 3 rd September 2003 Hollibury House PO Box 267 Southport PR8 1WD Telephone 0870 165 7468 www.elc.org.uk Email : info@elc.org.uk. Right to Health and Housing ? justiciability ?.

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Presentation by Environmental Law Centre

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  1. Presentation by Environmental Law Centre @MCS International ConferenceCecil Sharpe House, London2nd & 3rd September 2003 Hollibury House PO Box 267 Southport PR8 1WD Telephone 0870 165 7468 www.elc.org.uk Email : info@elc.org.uk

  2. Right to Health and Housing ? justiciability ? State Obligations !

  3. International Conventions • ‘The human right to health is recognised in numerous international instruments. Article 25.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[1] affirms: ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services’. • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides the most comprehensive article on the right to health in international human rights law. [1] Int Human Rights Documents, 3ed, Blackstone p24

  4. In accordance with article 12.1 of the Covenant[2], States parties recognise ‘the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest possible standard of physical and mental health’, while article 12.2 enumerates, by way of illustration, a number of ‘steps to be taken by the States parties…to achieve the full realisation of this right’. • [2]Ibid p.84

  5. Additionally, the right to health is recognised, inter alia, in article 5 (e) (iv) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1966 [3], in articles 11.1 (f) • 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979 [4] • In article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989[5]. • [3] Ibid p.58 • [4] Ibid p 98 • [5] Ibid p 125

  6. Regional Guarantors • Several regional human rights instruments also recognise the right to health, such as the European Social Charter of 1961 as revised (art. 11) [6], • African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981 (art.16) [7] • Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1988 (art. 10) [8]. • [6] Ibid p 283 • [7] Ibid p 369 • [8] Ibid p 349

  7. Similarly, the right to health has been proclaimed by the Commission on Human Rights [9], • As well as in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 1993 [10]and other international instruments’. • [9] Resolution 1989/11 • [10] Int Human Rights Documents, 3ed, Blackstone p 416

  8. What are these rights ? • In order to be able to understand the protection given, the definition of the right to health is essential. Article 12.1 of the Convention ICCPR defines right to health as ‘the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest possible standard of physical and mental health.’ The difficulty with this definition is that it is rather vague and does not take into account of other health care provisions which are essential to the well being of any given population. This may include support services such as preventative and primary health education.

  9. The concept, ‘highest attainable standard of health’ is misleading in so far as it is dependent on factors such as the ‘individual’s biological and socio-economic preconditions and the State’s available resources.’ The imprecise content of this right of beneficiary is in reality being confused with uncertainty as to the scope of the obligations incumbent upon the State. In short the State can plead poverty. Unlike other rights, the right to health requires a State participation and the Covenant does not provide any monitoring criteria with a punitive control mechanism.

  10. Clarifications ! • In an attempt to rectify and clarify what is considered under right to health, General Comment 14 [11] (GC 14) to some degree recognises the changes that have taken place since the adoption of the two Covenants, International, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR} and International Covenant of [11] ICESCR, GC 14, E/C.12/2000/4 (2000). • Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) . It acknowledges that there have been dramatic changes in the understanding of health definition[12] . • 11 ICESCR, GC 14, E/C.12/2000/4 (2000) • 12ICCPR 1996

  11. It is now acknowledged that any health definition must also include effects on health as a result of armed conflicts or violence. It continues that “new” illnesses such as human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in addition to cancer as well as implications of the rapid growth of the world population must form part of the strategy on the right to health.

  12. Definitions • In a welcome move under section 12 of the GC 14, the Committee has sought to define the scope of these rights. The scope is given under four main headings with further sub headings namely:- 1. Availability 2. Accessibility i) Non-discrimination ii) Physical accessibility iii) Economic accessibility iv) Information accessibility 3. Acceptability 4. Quality

  13. Part Two: It’s within your reach to improve your quality of life. • It is 4 years on the 4th of September 2003 since a legal and health helpline started and has operated between 10am and 4pm. When started, there were on average between 10-15 calls per week. • Today as most of you know the line is constantly busy despite the fact that there are now 2 lines in operation. • 80% 0f all calls are from sufferers of environmental illnesses. • You may also be interested to know this helpline and or other services have been provided with donations from the public – we need your continued support.

  14. Ongoing research In order to give efficient and effective advice ELC often undertakes research to improve our services. Findings of one such study showed that :- 1 that the majority of the people who contacted us for help had very little staying power when treatments were offered which did not have an exotic component. (This is understandable due to the desperation which creeps in with time – remedy creation of local self help groups greatly improved the will of the sufferers).

  15. 2 The human body is 60 - 80% water. Every 5 to 10 days we need to replace all of our body's water to keep functioning smoothly, efficiently and to maintain good health yet our findings showed that the amount of liquid intake on average amounted from a cup to half pint per day instead of a minimum of five pints per day – this again can be put down to hopelessness and lack of network support. 3 The study also showed that those sampled and others were taking excessive amounts and types of mineral and vitamin supplements – in one instance one person was taking some 60 pills per day ! 4 The air quality of their immediate environment was of poor quality - no attempts were made to rectify this aspect including opening the windows.

  16. In Depth Two aspects that had the greatest impact on the quality of life without incurring great cost were:- 1 Significance of Air Quality in the overall management • The brief study showed that use of air purifiers particularly those equipped with hepa filters, low density pu foam and charcoal were the most effective in improving the quality of life of the sufferer. Sufferers were able to be more active and alert when they had slept in a room with these air purifiers. In fact placing small units around the house proved most effective and also beneficial. • Better recovery results were obtained in a combination of good air quality in the house coupled with water intake and balanced mineral and vitamin supplements.

  17. Our further studies carried out over 18 months targeted patients with MCS in a work situation, both with and without an air filters in use. Those that used the air filters demonstrated reduction in “brain fog”; they had greater ability to concentrate and a greater span of concentration time; and increased ability to design and to coordinate patterns and handle the design programmes than those with no air purifiers. • We intend to undertake a more extensive study in the next year in order it may give us more information on the type of chemicals removed etc .

  18. 2 REMEDY - Effective self help strategy : Local Self HelpUnits • In the majority of cases, physical appearances of a sufferer alter little and as such the public do not accept that anything is wrong. GPs stance does not help. Social Services and backup services simply do not exist for sufferers. • This acts as a double punishment especially as in a majority of cases, family members find it difficult to accept that people can be affected without physical appearances. • In extreme cases it has meant break-up of families and also a great cost in financial terms of such break-ups. • In a limited research study we found that where there was support, sufferers coped much better and also responded more positively than where there was no support available.

  19. Wasted effort Other conclusions which were considered a waste of time and money were the following:- 1 Drinking from plastic bottles (bottled water is subjected to only two tests compared to tap water. Tap water with the aid of a water purifier – costing less than £27- was more effective). There would also appear to be confusion between plastic and plasticisers and their relative dangers. Plasticisers are present in many products such as children toys, cosmetics, gravy granules, formula milks and many others etc and are toxic to health. 2 Even for the body of a healthy person, at most, is able to assimilate 5% or less of most mineral and nutrients in tablet forms. So taking mineral and vitamin supplements in tablet form is not only a waste of limited resources but also it adds a further burden to an already weakened body.

  20. 3 Taking mineral and vitamin in tonic form were found to be more effective provided one did not follow the recommended dose but took a third of it diluted in liquid. On the question of the type of minerals and nutrients we did not find any difference for example say between Seven Seas Mineral and Vitamin supplement (costing less than £5) and Neways Maximol Solutions (costing between £15 - £20). 4 Similarly the economy bread of supermarkets contain less additives and preservatives, enhancers and texturisers than leading brands.

  21. Most importantly we are very seriously concerned that people are being led into false security into believing that so called ‘friendly products’ that have been endorsed or recommended by organisations purporting to be acting on behalf of sufferers, are not ‘friendly’ at all to MCS sufferers. In some instances the products may not be harmful but in a cocktail formulation they are very harmful to sufferers.

  22. Calling all parties • We invite the public to tell us areas of interest and also names of speakers for the next conference. We also seek fund raisers. • We are also seeking funds to undertake collaborative work with Prof Wong in the treatment of chemically exposed people including children exhibiting “autism type syndrome”.

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