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Jonathan Mann Global Health and Human Rights Initiative

What is the Right to Health?

Health is a human right – all individuals are entitled to achieve the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, regardless of race, sex, religion, political belief or other status. Achieving health as a human right means ensuring that care and services are available, accessible – including affordable, culturally appropriate, gender sensitive and of good quality. It also encompasses addressing underlying determinants of health, such as fulfilling the rights to an adequate standard of living, access to clean water, housing and education.

A rights-based approach to health entails addressing inequities in health outcomes – prioritizing the needs of the most marginalized. Communities are at the center of the health response, meaningfully involved in the development, implementation and monitoring of health programs and policies.

Since its inception, the Dornsife School of Public Health has been committed to advancing the right to health. Our founding Dean, Dr. Jonathan Mann, was a passionate advocate for human rights as core to public health. An epidemiologist and doctor by training, Dr. Mann designed a school that centered on working with communities and analyzing the underlying causes of health disparities – discrimination, stigma, and marginalization – that are also human rights violations. His vision still guides Dornsife's work today.

Dornsife continues to focus on health as a social justice and human rights issue. Our work sheds a light on health inequities in the US and internationally. We partner closely with a variety of organizations at local, regional and global levels.

For global health, we support innovative research, practice and advocacy on health and human rights issues through the work of the Jonathan Mann Initiative, which includes co-publishing, with the FXB Center of Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health, the Health and Human Rights Journal.

Jonathan Mann Global Health and Human Rights Initiative

Jonathan Mann, MD, MPH
Jonathan Mann, MD, MPH

The Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University was founded on the principle of health as a human right and the recognition of the importance of social justice to achieve health for all.

The founding Dean, Jonathan Mann, was a pioneer in defining human rights as the core of the public health response in his work responding to the emerging HIV epidemic in Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) and as the head of the World Health Organization’s Global Program on AIDS.

Dr. Mann was a passionate scientist and advocate and the Dornsife School of Public Health seeks to continue his legacy, defining health broadly to encompass physical, mental and social well-being and working to eliminate structural inequities in health.

Consistent with this history and its values, Dornsife created the Jonathan Mann Global Health and Human Rights Initiative. The Initiative is a global, interdisciplinary research platform and co-publisher of the Health and Human Rights Journal.

The mission of the Jonathan Mann Initiative is to develop and share knowledge that integrates human rights and global public health, as well as to strengthen civil society engagement in global advocacy. It aims to create a shared space for students, researchers and practitioners to inform policy and programmatic innovation to address structural determinants of health disparities.

The Initiative’s goals are to:

  • Expand Research: support and generate evidence- and community-based global health and human rights research and scholarship allied with advocacy seeking the fulfillment of global sustainable development goals related to health, addressing inequities and ensuring “no one is left behind."
  • Strengthen Partnerships: create and expand collaborations with health and human rights organizations throughout the world.
  • Foster Global Health and Human Rights Leaders and Practitioners: design and support teaching, research and practicum opportunities to encourage students interested in human rights and global health.