Research Assistants – An Introduction to Working in Global Health Law

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Interested in how law could be used toONLGL_LOGO_RGB address a global health issue? Don’t let one of my biggest academic regrets become yours!

One of my biggest regrets from my years in undergraduate and graduate school is that I did not get to know my professors well and get involved in their research. I always felt awkward speaking with a professor, even during office hours, especially if I was doing perfectly fine in the class. This made it a challenge when the time came to request letters of recommendation or inquire about particular career paths and opportunities. One way I could have rectified this awkwardness was by finding a professor whose research interested me and seeing if there were opportunities to assist with the research. Instead, I chose to spend my time doing other things –extracurricular clubs, classes, and socializing.

Why am I bringing this up in a blog post? Because even though that ship has sailed for me, as a student (J.D. or LL.M.) there is an opportunity to get involved with the work of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. How? As a Research Assistant.  Read More

Posted in Admin, Global Health, Global Health Law LL.M., National Healthcare;


The O’Neill Institute Responds to WHO’s Dr. Margaret Chan’s Global Futures Initiative Lecture

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Members of the O'Neill Institute and Dr. Margaret Chan

The O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law was pleased to attend Georgetown University's Global Futures Initiative lecture by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization on the "Global Future of Governance."  Members of our team were invited to submit responses to the Global Futures Initiative blog, which are excerpted below.

The Indispensable Role of Law, Oscar A. Cabrera and Susan C. Kim

As health lawyers, we were gratified when Dr. Margaret Chan championed the essential role that law plays in the future of global health governance during her Global Futures lecture.

We would, however, go one step further – law is not merely essential to the future of global health governance, it is indispensible.  The reason for this is perhaps deceptively simple – a house cannot be built without a foundation, and the foundation for governance at any level – local, national, regional, or global – is law.  Read Full Post.

Read More

Posted in Global Health, Global Health Law LL.M., Global Health Law LL.M. Program, Human Rights, Resources, WHO; Tagged: , , , , , .


Congresswoman Chellie Pingree takes on Food Waste

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This morning, at the New York Time’s Food for Tomorrow conference, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine announced a new bill aimed at tackling food waste. She explained that in the US, 40% of all food is wasted, which averages about 20 pounds per person. At the same time, 50 million Americans do not have access to healthy food. Organic waste in landfills is creating so much methane gas that if food waste was a country it would be third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

The Congresswoman stressed the need for holistic reform that considers the myriad complex and nuanced problems borne from wasted food like hunger, malnutrition, and methane emissions. The bill is divided into four sections to target waste from consumers, farms, restaurants and institutions. Specific agenda items include a 25% tax credit for farmers who donate extra food to soup kitchens and pantries; redefining USDA’s grading standards to include “ugly” fruit; and, looking into expansion of the Good Samaritan Food Act to protect retailers from liability surrounding food donations.

The Congresswoman expressed frustration around the arbitrary way manufacturers place expiration dates on food and its impact on consumer behavior. Pingree suggested changing the language on food packaging to “manufactured suggested date” as one possible way to educate consumers that they can eat food past an expiration date, but she also requested other ideas.

A few times in her speech, Congresswoman Pingree acknowledged the tense atmosphere in this Congress. “Congress hasn’t fared too well in the conversation today, you might be skeptical. The bright note here is even in a highly partisan Congress there are ways to get things done.”

The Congresswoman promised to “work hard to get support from both sides of the isle, and look for opportunities to add on a piece here and a piece there in appropriation bills.”

The full speech is available here.

Posted in FDA, Global Health; Tagged: .


An Eye-Opening Evening

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PictureThis post was written by Rebecca Donsky, a 2016 candidate for the Global Health Law LL.M. at Georgetown Law.  The views presented here are her own. Any questions or comments can be directed to rd886@georgetown.edu.

On September 30, 2015 I attended an event at Georgetown Law hosted by Professor Eric Rosenthal of Georgetown Law, the Human Rights Institute, and Disability Rights International (DRI), an International human rights organization in Washington, DC. During this event I witnessed the premier of the PBS visionaries documentary Disability Rights International: No One Left Behind.

The film was a graphic showcase on children who were left behind in orphanages in the Republic of Georgia. The film demonstrated how children are left without adequate support and personal contact in the orphanages. Professor Rosenthal showed his experiences firsthand in his visit to the orphanages and described DRI’s efforts to help end these abuses faced in the institutions. Professor Rosenthal emphasized how families and community groups can help save children who do not receive life saving medical care in the institutions.

I am a Global Health Law LL.M. student at Georgetown Law. The evening was a visual symbol of what I have learned during the beginning of my program. One topic that I examined this semester was the Right to Health. The World Health Organization Constitution has holistically defined health as, "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Read More

Posted in Global Health, Global Health Law LL.M., Global Health Law LL.M. Program, Human Rights, WHO; Tagged: , , , , .


Trade liberalization for tobacco products doesn’t make sense: why the O’Neill is petitioning against U.S. tobacco product import subsidies

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Image courtesy of theguardian.com

Image courtesy of theguardian.com

I have previously written about the absurdity of treating tobacco like any other good in the market, specifically the inconsistencies between antitrust law and public health regulation. It’s concerning – and frightening – when economists and free trade advocates forget that, unlike any other commercial good, tobacco products harm and frequently kill those that use them exactly as directed or intended. The global death toll from tobacco is currently 6 million people every year, making tobacco products and tobacco use something we should be seeking to eradicate, not to promote or protect through trade policies or agreements.

This time, the issue concerns a US imports program, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The purpose of the program is to help “the world’s poorest countries to use trade to grow their economies and climb out of poverty” by eliminating tariffs or duties on specific products imported from these countries. You’ve guessed it – cigarettes and other tobacco products are on the GSP duty-free list.

Luckily, the GSP list of products undergoes periodic review, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is currently reviewing the submitted comments and petitions. Surprisingly, over at least the past several years no one has submitted a petition to USTR to remove any tobacco products from the duty-free list. But the O’Neill Institute has just submitted a petition seeking the withdrawal of all tobacco products from the GSP list and encouraging USTR to consult with tobacco control and public health experts when taking any action relating to tobacco products or tobacco use. Read More

Posted in Human Rights, Tobacco, Trade; Tagged: , , , , .


Reflecting on Indigenous health disparities on Columbus Day

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This week we celebrated Columbus Day, when we mark the arrival of European culture to the shores of the ‘New World’. It can be easy to forget that there was nothing ‘new’ about these shores upon Columbus’s arrival. There were many existing cultures already present with their own religious beliefs, customs and ways of life. There are 566 recognized AI/AN tribes in the United States representing approximately 2% of the population. The effects of colonization on these groups has been permanent and detrimental and one facet where these effects continue to be visible is in health disparities which disproportionally affect American Indian (AI) and Alaskan Native (AN) people when compared to the broader community.

It is well known that colonization has incredibly detrimental effects on Indigenous populations. Often people are displaced from their traditional homes and food sources, exposed to new and possibly deadly disease agents, introduced to harmful substances such as alcohol and tobacco and forced to redesign their social norms to fit into the legal and financial frameworks imposed by colonizers. All of these factors have negative and direct health outcomes, which can be passed down through the generations as people are forced further and further from their traditional way of life, but also not fully embraced within the new colonial culture. AI/AN peoples experience the direct consequences of these factors through both social and health outcomes. They have very high rates of poverty, unemployment, substance use and low levels of education when compared to other segments of the population. These social factors have direct health outcomes such as lower life expectancy, high rates of teen pregnancy, suicide in young people, infant mortality rates and disproportionate burden of disease, largely due to preventable conditions such as heart disease, unintentional injury, diabetes and chronic liver disease and lung cancer.

These health outcomes are not just a product of historic social discrepancies, but are being fed by modern structures, which continue to widen the gap between AI/AN peoples and the rest of the population. While these tribes exist as sovereign entities within the U.S., they are entitled to health services from the federal government, which are provided on reservations through the Indian Health Service (IHS). The IHS provides medical care for approximately 2.2 million AI/AN individuals, however the U.S. census estimates that there are approximately 5 million AI/AN individuals in the US with more than half living outside of reservations and therefore unable to receive the benefit of the IHS program. Along with approximately half of all AI/AN peoples not having access to the IHS, it is estimated that almost 27% of all indigenous people in the United States lack health insurance. This leaves AI/AN individuals who choose to live outside of reservations with little choice in relation to access to health care.

In an era where we see a national push for expanded access to health and it is important that we do not leave AI/AN peoples behind, but instead meaningfully engage them in a disserted effort to bridge the social and health chasm in ways that are effective and culturally appropriate.

Posted in Human Rights, National Healthcare; Tagged: , , .


Global Health’s 21st Century Challenge: From An Inspiring Lecture to A Candid Conversation with WHO’s Dr. Margaret Chan

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Anna Tordjmann (GHL'16 Candidate) and Dr. Margaret Chan

This post was written by Anna Tordjmann, a 2016 candidate for the Global Health Law LL.M. at Georgetown Law.  The views presented here are her own. Any questions or comments can be directed to at925@law.georgetown.edu.

I am a candidate in the Global Health Law LL.M at Georgetown Law, and I received the unique chance to attend Doctor Margaret Chan’s lecture on Global Health’s 21st Century Challenge as well as meeting her for a more private conversation.

During her lecture, Doctor Chan addressed three main subjects. She started out her speech by giving a general overview of the main 21st century challenges. She mentioned the very interesting issue of addiction to antibiotics and microbial resistance. While less advantaged countries suffer from the underuse of antibiotics, wealthy countries are facing the opposite issue: the overuse of antibiotics is progressively leading to a microbial resistance. Governments try to address this challenge by informing the populations through ad campaigns but the use of antibiotics has not significantly decreased. This is a real threat to public health and the 21st century policies will have to take this into account. Read More

Posted in Global Health, Global Health Law LL.M. Program, Health reform, Human Rights, WHO; Tagged: , , , , , , .


The unmet need for family planning, an unmet human right

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On October 9-11, the University of Washington School of Law hosted the Human Right to Family Planning Conference. It explored the relationship between the right to health and family planning – globally and locally, bringing together advocates, doctors, nurses, lawyers, public health professionals, pharmacists, politicians, academics and researchers, among others.

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Posted in Global Health, Human Rights, WHO; Tagged: , , , , , , .


National Health Equity Strategies to Implement the Global Promise of SDGs

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Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Ridge_Indian_Reservation)

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The land is beautiful, but life can be brutal, with a life expectancy of less than 50 years. Photo courtesy of  Wikipedia,

[This blog was originally posted in the Health and Human Rights Journal as parts of its series of blogs on the Sustainable Development Goals, and is re-posted here with permission.]

“No one will be left behind.” The bold promise at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must guide their implementation. This requires utterly transforming the lives and opportunities of those who are already furthest behind.

Such a transformation must occur through both national and global action, with a laser-like focus on equity. Inequities throughout the socioeconomic gradient must be addressed, with the greatest focus on those who are most disadvantaged and marginalized.

I propose one overarching idea, that every country develops a national health equity strategy. Each strategy would:

  •  Identify all populations that are subject to health inequities
  •  Identify and analyze, for each population, the nature of these inequities, including their extent and their causes
  •  Based on this analysis, develop plans that are specific to each population to end these inequities, with actions harmonized across the diverse and overlapping populations to capture cross-cutting issues and synergies
  •  Translate these plans into specific and time-bound actions, with adequate budgetary and other resource requirements
  •  Develop time-bound targets on reducing and ultimately ending inequities, based on the maximum of available resources and capacity, and
  •  Ensure strong information systems to collect data to monitor progress.

Read More

Posted in Global Health, Human Rights, National Healthcare; Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , .


Vote Food 2016: An open letter to all candidates running for office

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Today, four of America’s preeminent voices in food policy published A National Food Policy for the 21st Century. In their memo to the next president, Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador, and Olivier De Schutter laid out a comprehensive framework for untangling the myriad laws, regulations, and social mores that make up America’s troubled food system.

Laying the foundation for a National Food Policy is predicated not only on a president who understands the significance of food on multiple facets of daily life, but also on leaders at all levels of government - local, state, and federal - who will support this goal.

We the people must elect these leaders. In 2016, Americans need candidates who are committed to improving America’s health, starting with our most basic necessity, food. Please share this letter widely, follow us on twitter @VoteFood2016, and stay tuned for more on this project.


Dear Candidates:

We urge you to pledge to improve America’s health by making food policy a central part of your campaign platform.

Food touches the life of every American every day.

  • Food is a household issue, accounting for 13 percent of personal household expenditures, behind only housing and transportation costs.[i]
  • The food sector is a major economic driver, contributing about $800 billion dollars annually to the economy.[ii]
  • Food is a labor issue, providing 17 million jobs in agriculture, food services, and manufacturing.[iii]

But food is increasingly also a public health issue.

  • Obesity costs Americans more than $300 billion dollars each year in medical and treatment costs and in decreased productivity.[iv]
  • Despite the abundance of food, one in seven Americans goes to bed hungry each night, including 12 million children.[v]
  • The widespread use of antibiotics in livestock intended for human consumption is leading to alarming rates of antibiotic resistance.[vi]

Today, we find ourselves at a critical juncture in the policies that affect our country’s food supply. Now, more than ever, Americans are paying close attention to what they eat, where it comes from, and how it affects their health. The number of consumers who favor organically grown and locally sourced products is increasing. Intolerance for the abundance of sugar, salt and, unhealthy fats in school lunches is spurring the creation of innovative menus. Responding to consumers’ demands for ethically raised and healthier meat products, multinational corporations are moving away from food raised with antibiotics and towards more humanely and sustainably sourced food. And, from overpriced produce to food deserts, Americans are beginning to understand the profound inequality our food system breeds and its systemic impact on the health of low-income communities. By recognizing food as a health issue, significant improvements in public health can be made.

As a candidate for public office, we call on you to improve America’s health by joining the growing movement for better food and pledging to make U.S. food policy part of your campaign platform.

Americans need leaders in government who support the safety and integrity of our food supply, who will ensure that everyone is able to eat nutritious food, and who understand that America’s unsustainable food consumption and production habits are harming this nation’s health.

Food is at the center of American lives, and should be at the center of its policies. Thank you for your support.

Vote Food 2016

[i] Economic Research Service (United States Department of Agriculture), Ag and Food Sectors and the Economy

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id.

[iv] Pianin, E. “New Lifetime Estimate of Obesity Costs: $92,235 Per Person” The Fiscal Times, May 15, 2015

[v] Feeding America

[vi] National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (Centers for Disease Control) Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report and Foodborne Germs


Posted in FDA, Human Rights, National Healthcare, Uncategorized; Tagged: .

The views reflected in this blog are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.

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