Open Society Foundations’ Law and Health Initiative

People who have watched the extraordinary impact of human rights advocacy funded by investor and philanthropist George Soros, will be interested to see the work of the Open Society Foundations (founded by Soros in 1984) in supporting collaborations between health and legal practitioners to advance the common goals of human rights, human dignity, and open society.

“The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, the Foundations seek to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.”1

The Law and Health Initiative supports the integration of legal and paralegal advocacy into community-based health services, both to increase access to justice and ensure comprehensive care for vulnerable groups. It aims to ensure access to timely, effective, and affordable legal assistance for underserved populations such as women and girls, people who use drugs, sex workers, LGBT persons, and people living with HIV and other terminal illnesses.2

In recent years OSF has prioritized funding and programs in the following areas:

  1. Integrating Health and Legal Services, supporting the integration of legal and paralegal advocacy into community-based health services.
  2. Human Rights in Patient Care, establishing human rights guidelines and the training of health workers in the delivery of medical care to vulnerable groups, and supporting legal action to remedy abuses in the health care system.
  3. HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, giving core institutional support and technical assistance to organizations with a dedicated mandate to use legal strategies seeking to address the link between the global HIV epidemic and human rights abuses towards vulnerable groups.
  4. Law and Health Capacity Development, supporting university courses in law and health, clinical legal education, and continuing education courses for legal and health professionals.
  5. Legal Strategies in Health Monitoring, supporting the use of legal strategies to advance transparency, accountability, and civil society participation in health policy, programs, and spending.3

To find out more check out the OSF Law and Health Initiative.

Peter Noble

1. Open Societies Foundation, About Us, at http://www.soros.org/about , accessed 16 April 2012.

2. Open Societies Foundation, Public Health Program Law and Health, http://www.soros.org/initiatives/health/focus/law/about, accessed 16 April 2012.

3. Open Societies Foundation, Public Health Program Law and Health: Focus Areas and Grants, at http://www.soros.org/initiatives/health/focus/law/focus_areas , accessed 16 April 2012.

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