Category Archives: Health + Ability

Palestinian Territories News | Women with Cancer

Israel denies Palestinians with cancer access to treatment as medication dwindles
  • The Israeli government has indicated that six Gazan women suffering from cancer can travel to the West Bank (despite its lack of treatment capability) or abroad for treatment.
  • The women had previously been denied exit from the Gaza Strip because they are related to members of Hamas—a common punishment disproportionately burdening women—and continue to be denied permit to travel to East Jerusalem, where Palestinian hospitals are located.
  • The Gaza Health Ministry also announced the termination of its chemotherapy treatments in Gaza hospitals due to depletion of medical supplies, which cannot be replenished due to the recent tightening of the Israeli military blockade.
Read

Israel Proposes Gaza Cancer Patients Be Treated in West Bank, Where Treatment Is Unavailable” (Haaretz | August 2018)

Roundup: Gaza suffers escalating medicine, humanitarian goods shortage by Israeli blockade” (Xinhua News Agency | August 2018)

Many Gazan Women Are No Longer Able to Enter Israel for Cancer Treatment” (The New Yorker | June 2018)

U.K. News | Underrepresented Communities

U.K. elects most diverse parliament in history
  • 51 MPs of color (black and minority ethnic, or BME) were elected to the House of Commons, an increase of some 25% from the 41 elected in the previous election cycle.
  • 208 women were elected, an electoral record though still only 32% of Parliament, and more than 40 LGBT MPs now form the largest cohort of openly queer politicians in the history of the House of Commons.
  • The new parliament also features the first Palestinian, first female Sikh, four black female, first turban-wearing Sikh, and four openly disabled MPs.
Read

Election results: Record number of black, Asian and ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament” (The Independent | June 2017)

The New Parliament Has More Black, Asian, And Women MPs Than Ever Before” (BuzzFeed News | June 2017)

Election 2017: Record number of female MPs” (BBC News | June 2017)

(Image Credit: Facebook, via The Independent)

Caribbean News | Marginalized Communities

New database catalogs human rights violations for the Caribbean’s vulnerable communities
  • The Shared Incidents Database (SID) will document violations affecting people with HIV, sex workers, people with substance addiction, gay and bisexual men, trans people, vulnerable youth, migrants, and the incarcerated.
  • The database is a collaboration between the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic.
  • Human rights and social justice organizations across the Caribbean are being trained in the use of SID, which creators envision as a tool in program development, policy creation, petitioning, and reporting.
Read

Caribbean’s first online human rights database launched” (The Jamaica Observer | May 2017)

New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Communities” (Global Voices | May 2017)

Caribbean’s First Online Human Rights Incidence Database Launched” (Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition | May 2017)

India News | HIV+

India passes nondiscrimination law securing rights for people with HIV
  • The first of its kind in South Asia, the law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, education, healthcare, and public accommodations such as restaurants and calls for the establishment of an ombudsman to monitor violations.
  • An estimated 2.1 million people live with HIV in India, with some 1 million currently receiving treatment.
  • Some advocates for the positive community argued that the law does not go far enough to guarantee free treatment for the afflicted.
Read

Parliament clears landmark HIV Bill” (The Hindu | April 2017)

What is HIV/AIDS Bill? All your questions answered” (The Indian Express | April 2017)

India takes flawed first step towards ending HIV and Aids prejudice” (The Guardian | April 2017)

(Image Credit: Jayanta Dey/Reuters, via The Guardian)

Venezuela News | People with Disabilities

Severe drug shortages leave Venezuelans with epilepsy and their families struggling
  • With 85 of every 100 drugs missing, Venezuela faces an acute shortage of pharmaceutical drugs needed to treat a range of otherwise manageable illnesses, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, HIV, and cancer.
  • Families report traveling hundreds of miles to obtain necessary drugs, sourcing from abroad, and taking expired or inappropriate medication.
  • President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the shortage on a right-wing plot to overthrow him and announced new counteractive investments, although little progress has been seen.
Read

Epileptics struggle amid drug shortages in Venezuela” (Reuters | March 2017)

Venezuela Is Falling Apart” (The Atlantic | May 2016)

‘You name it, we can’t treat it.’” (Caracas Chronicles | March 2016)

Falta de medicinas descompensa a los pacientes psiquiátricos” (El Universal | August 2014)

(Image Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlings/Reuters)

 

U.S. Feature | Autism

The Growing Workforce Inclusion of the U.S. Autism Community

Companies like EY, Microsoft, and HP Enterprises have begun launching new neurodiversity initiatives at their firms, with a particular focus on recruiting people on the autism spectrum. The new outreach is welcome by advocates for the autism community, which faces a 58% unemployment rate despite having skills in high demand by employers in the knowledge economy. The Atlantic features an overview of industry efforts at inclusion, including innovation in recruiting, training, and management processes to ensure the successful identification and integration of people on the spectrum into organizations.

Read:
Why Some Companies Are Trying to Hire More People on the Autism Spectrum” (The Atlantic | December 2016)

Related reads:
Work in progress: An inside look at autism’s job boom” (Spectrum | July 2016)
Changing Employers’ Perceptions, One Autistic Worker at a Time” (Inc. | May 2015)

Resources:
Specialisterne USA

(Image Credit: via The Atlantic)

U.S. Feature | Prisoners with Disabilities

Seeking Justice for Prisoners with Disabilities in the U.S.


Source: Disability Rights Washington YouTube

The failure of prisons to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ruled applicable to prisons in 1998, has created a quagmire within the criminal justice system: although people with disabilities are incarcerated at rates far higher than their demographic proportion and comprise nearly a third of the total prison population, they are funneled into systems that refuse to follow the law when it comes to adapting their protocols and facilities to those disabilities. Beyond the mass incarceration of people with disabilities, once incarcerated, disabled people face longer sentencing, solitary confinement, inaccessible vocational training, poor education administration, and limited medical access, exacerbating the negative effects of physical and mental illnesses and creating cycles of re-marginalization and inadequate preparation for release.

VICE News examines the impact of incarceration on people with disabilities and attempts to advocate on their behalf given the numerous conflicts of interest present in the reporting and petitioning process.

Read:
Punished Twice” (VICE News)

Related reads:
Making Hard Time Harder” (The AVID Prison Project, June 2016)
Disabled Behind Bars: The Mass Incarceration of People With Disabilities in America’s Jails and Prisons” (The Center for American Progress)
Know Your Rights: Legal Rights of Disabled Prisoners (The American Civil Liberties Union)

U.S. Feature | Children with Disabilities

Failing Students with Disabilities in Texas

An extensive multi-part series by The Houston Chronicle has revealed the devious tactics the Texas Education Agency and school administrators have deployed to reduce the number of students with disabilities their schools serve, masking an alarming decrease in support beneath the glean of “improved pedagogy” and “early intervention.” An arbitrary, unscientific 8.5% benchmark was set across the state for the percentage of students taught in special education classes, which necessitated a dramatic and at times aggressive reduction in the number of students evaluated and identified as in need of special education. From stories of families trapped in bureaucratic labyrinths to data on the disproportionate negative effect on English-language learners, the Chronicle series investigates the broken system responsible for the education of children with disabilities and the political struggle to right the listing ship.

Read:
Denied: How Texas keeps tens of thousands of kids out of special ed” (The Houston Chronicle)

(Image Credit: Marie D. De Jesús/The Houston Chronicle)

Tanzania News | HIV+ Queer Men

Tanzania suspends funding for HIV/AIDS programs supporting queer men as crackdown grows
  • The country’s health minister indicated the programs had been suspended “pending a review,” while programs supporting adolescent girls, drug users, and others will continue uninterrupted.
  • The government has accused some community-based and internationally funded programs of normalizing same-sex relationships as part of their outreach to queer men, some 25% of whom are living with HIV.
  • Though same-sex relations are punishable by up to 30 years in prison in the country, the government only recently broke its silence on the issue to condemn groups “promoting” homosexuality, with a number of officials having announced anti-LGBT campaigns.

Read more:
Tanzania suspends HIV/AIDS programs in new crackdown on gays” (The Washington Post)
Tanzania suspends some HIV programs for gay men, says health minister” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
‘Seeds of hate’ sown as Tanzania starts LGBT crackdown” (The Guardian, August 2016)

(Image Credit: Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post)

Armenia Feature | Blind & Visually Impaired

Raising the Voices of the Visually Impaired in Armenia

As the Internet has created new channels for the inclusion of marginalized communities, people with disabilities in particular have looked to the technology as a chance to discover and create new, accessible labor and creative opportunities. In Armenia, government agencies and international NGOs have worked together to promote information literacy and use among blind and visually impaired Armenians. One new program, Radio MENQ, has bridged the technical with the creative, offering blind and visually impaired people the chance to work as presenters and sound technicians for an internet radio station focused on issues and interests of relevance to the visually impaired community. Global Voices sat down with two of the project’s leaders to discuss the history and future of Radio MENQ and how opportunities like the station help combat pervasive unemployment and marginalization in the community.

Read:
How is Online Radio Helping to Empower Visually Impaired People in Armenia?” (Global Voices)

(Image Credit: via Global Voices)

ClimateWatch: U.S.

ClimateWatch
The U.S. in the Era of Trump


Source: euronews YouTube

The conclusion of an election that saw an historic clash over the values of diversity, inclusion, and the meaning of “America” has brought with it a surge in uncertainty for minority and other historically disadvantaged communities in the U.S. The damage was extensive: the nearly year and a half of campaigning saw ethnic and religious minorities disparaged, immigrants targeted, women (including his opponent) subjected to misogynistic abuse, the mainstream press caught in the crosshairs of an anti-media campaign, and rhetorical and symbolic resonances in speeches and advertising that drew white supremacists and other far-right extremists out of the woodwork.

In what ways has Trump’s election reshaped the social and political climate for vulnerable American populations, including women, Latinos, black people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities? How is the post-election retreat from data showing racial resentment as the highest predictor of Trump support endangering reality-based solutions for vulnerable communities, politicians, and analysts? And how has his rise to power connected to and amplified similar right-wing, ethno-nationalist politics globally?

Whether and how American conservatives and the Republican Party—now set to hold power in all three branches of government—are able to manage a resurgent coalition of ethno-nationalist voters as well as the capacity for progressive and Democratic activists to create social, political, and legal structures to protect vulnerable communities will determine what life in Trump’s America will look like for the at-risk. This ClimateWatch rounds up a number of key news items, analyses, and commentaries providing insight on what has happened and what could be on the horizon. Continue reading ClimateWatch: U.S.

Japan Feature | Transgender

The Ambivalence of Pathologizing Transgenderism

Bucking the trend in many developed countries to depathologize the mind-body incongruence at the heart of trans identity, Japan has seen resistance to international efforts to eliminate medical classifications of transgenderism as a disorder. A medical diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) has at times been necessary to secure the rights to the myriad legal and medical changes necessary to confirm an individual’s gender identity in the eyes of the state.

Much as disability advocates have fought to secure recognition, acceptance, and accommodation of those with disabilities and chronic illnesses in society, some Japanese trans activists and medical professionals have advocated for the continued recognition of GID and the accommodations necessary for trans people to live healthy lives. BuzzFeed News takes a look at the modern history of transgender visibility in Japan, the ambivalent reaction to declassification attempts, and the broader shift in medicine from corrective to adaptive approaches to addressing “illness” in society.

Read:
Why Transgender People In Japan Prefer To Be Told They Have A ‘Disorder’” (BuzzFeed News)

Related:
First GID doctors certified in Japan” (The Japan Times)

(Image Credit:  Kate Ferro/BuzzFeed News)

Japan News | People with Disabilities

Mass stabbing attack at facility for the disabled in Japan leaves at least 19 dead, dozens wounded
  • The Tsukui Yamayuri-en care facility in Sagamihara, an hour west of Tokyo, came under attack in the early morning hours by a former employee.
  • The knife attack was reportedly the worst mass killing in the country in decades, with additional reports of as many as 45 wounded.
  • The attacker allegedly indicated an anti-disability motive upon turning himself in.

Read more:
Man fatally stabs 15, wounds 45 in predawn attack at Kanagawa care facility, is arrested” (The Japan Times)
Japan knife attack: 15 killed and dozens wounded in stabbing” (The Guardian)
Knife Attack Kills at Least 15 in Tokyo Suburb” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: via The Japan Times)

East & Southern Africa Feature | People with Albinism

The Hunted Albinism Community of East and Southern Africa

People with albinism, a condition affecting body pigmentation and sunlight sensitivity, have faced ongoing persecution throughout East and Southern Africa, attacked and trafficked by those who believe their body parts hold magical powers. With albinism found to occur more frequently in certain African regions like East Africa than elsewhere in the world, the higher visibility has led to increased discrimination and prejudice. Children in particular have faced heightened vulnerability to kidnapping and violence, leading some families and governments to respond by segregating children with albinism into Temporary Holding Centers (THCs).

Recent years have seen increased attention to the insecurity of the albinism community in countries like Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania. Police have worked to crack down on kidnapping and murders while civil organizations have cropped up to provide education, resources, and support to the community. Nevertheless, ongoing black markets and trafficking networks have endangered the community in ways observers worry may be irreversible without aggressive government and community interventions.

Read more:
Mozambique: 50 arrested over albino murders” (StarAfrica, May 2016)
Albino abductors get 25-year jail term” (Malawi 24, May 2016)
In Malawi, people with albinism face ‘total extinction’– UN rights expert” (U.N. News Agency, April 2016)
Report on Investigative Mission on the Situation of Children with Albinism in Temporary Holding Shelters – Tanzania (African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, March 2016)
The first Pan-African Albino Conference” (Global Disability Watch, January 2016)
Mozambican albinos’ life in fear” (Deutsche Welle, November 2015)

Additional:
Under the Same Sun
Albinism Society of Kenya
Albinism Society of South Africa
Zimbabwe Albino Association

(Image Credit: Christine Wambaa/OHCHR)

U.S. Feature | People with Disabilities

The New Segregation

Long-term care for people with chronic illnesses and certain physical and cognitive disabilities has become an important civil rights battle ground over the last two decades. While media attention has focused on government responses to civil rights issues including anti-LGBT legislation and racial inequalities in the criminal justice system, the U.S. Department of Justice has opened more than 50 investigations into what it reports has been the segregation of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities in nursing facilities. Effectively institutionalizing people with disabilities, nursing facilities have detached an estimated 250,000 from economic opportunity and social life, despite a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that people with disabilities should only be placed in nursing facilities if medically necessary. The New York Times analyzes the push for home-based care and the DOJ’s active investigations into violations of protections secured under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s 1999 decision.

Read:
South Dakota Wrongly Puts Thousands in Nursing Homes, Government Says” (The New York Times)

Additional:
Feds: Relying On Nursing Homes For Those With Disabilities Not OK” (Disability Scoop)
Letter on results of investigation into South Dakota’s healthcare practices (U.S. Department of Justice)
Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin Releases Report Showing ADA’s Promise of Integration is Not Being Met for Many Americans with Disabilities” (U.S. Senate press HELP release, July 2013)

(Image Credit: Thinkstock, via Disability Scoop)