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Global health law

Since 2009, IDLO, in collaboration with UNAIDS and UNDP, has worked to strengthen and expand legal services for people living with HIV and key affected populations. With support from OFID and the Ford Foundation, IDLO has scaled up HIV-related legal services in more than 18 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. An independent evaluation of IDLO’s Egypt program has reported that:

“Before the project, PLHIVs [people living with HIV] did not know their rights and due to stigma did not want to disclose their HIV status. Thus they used to endure violations in silence without going to court. The IDLO Program raised the capacity of PLHIVs to know and request their rights. It was thus able to transform PLHIVs’ silence into readiness to take legal action. After winning several legal cases, PLHIVs/MARPs [most at risk populations] are now optimistic, have more confidence in themselves and ability to face stigma and discrimination. Their psychological state improved, as they are now able to pursue and demand their rights through provided legal support.

This sometimes positively affected their willingness to go for voluntary counseling and testing, conform to AIDS medication and protect themselves and others from infection. Empowerment of PLHIVs is a prominent outcome of IDLO’s program.”In November 2015, IDLO hosted the third inter-regional consultation on HIV-related legal services and rights, in Harare, Zimbabwe. Participants from Latin America, Africa and China shared experiences and strategies, including in online legal services (Mexico), diversion of drug users to rehabilitation instead of prison (Lebanon), and ending workplace discrimination (Ecuador and Guatemala). Where needed, IDLO has encouraged local organizations to advocate for reforms of laws, policies and practices to address systemic discrimination.

“My child took the anti-malaria medicine but did not get better.”
— a mother’s
 cry heard increasingly in developing countries, victims of fake drugs

In another strand of its health law work, IDLO has addressed the issue of falsified medicines, which flow largely unchecked into many developing countries with weak regulatory frameworks. The personal and public health consequences of this are severe. Falsified medicines may contain an insufficient amount of active ingredient or none at all, or dangerous substances. This can result in drug resistance, treatment failure and death. More than 15%of the drugs sold in some developing countries may be falsified or substandard, hence the need to support the development of strong national drug regulation and enforcement.

With the backing of the World Bank through the Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development, and at the invitation of the Ugandan government, in 2015 IDLO led a joint agency mission to document the legal and regulatory obstacles to addressing falsified medicines in Uganda, and make recommendations to overcome them. In November 2015, the East African Community Secretariat asked IDLO to help address falsified medicines in the East African region.

David Patterson, IDLO senior Legal Expert, health