Tuesday, July 24, 2007

the patient matters

Put the patient's needs first when implementing public health policies, says renowned Australian High Court judge, Michael Kirby.

Justice Kirby, a prominent advocate for human rights and a gay activist as well, said this at a panel discussion on HIV Testing - Increasing Access, Increasing Uptake and Protecting Human Rights, on the third day of the 4th IAS conference in Sydney, Australia.

In some countries, apparently, medical practitioners had been forced to work hand in glove with police to enforce a policy on universal HIV testing.

In such cases, it was argued, patients were "screwed."

Public service physicans were torn between loyalty to either patients or their paymasters, represented by government police, in an evironment that denied patients' individual consent and confidentiality.

"It's the patient that matters," said Justice Kirby. Individuals should take ownership of consent.

"The informed consent we are speaking of shouldn't be a top-down approach... We need to involve patients, every patient, though the way we involve them may differ from place to place," he said.

On stigma faced by HIV positive people, Kirby said it would end with familiarity, when everyone found out that the same people being discriminated against are "our neighbours, relatives, and friends." Blog by Ansbert Ngurumo of the WFSJ and the Tanazania Daima newspaper.

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