Each year, the Global Health Law Clinic (GHLC) publishes a series of reports resulting from student collaboration with various public service organizations, focused on solving problems in the global health law field. These reports are the result of many months of research by students enrolled in the Clinic's two-term course taught by GSL's Steven J. Hoffman and Lathika Sritharan.
In the 2017 academic year, the issues explored by the Clinic include:
Toward a Grand Bargain for an International Agreement on Antimicrobial Resistance: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasing threat to global public health. Despite widespread recognition of the need for immediate collective action to combat resistance, national and international efforts to address AMR have been largely fragmented and uncoordinated. The creation of an international agreement on AMR has been proposed to spur the necessary global response needed. However, for this agreement to be reached, a grand bargain must be struck that fairly balances the burdens and benefits of collective action among state actors. This report explores some of the issues that must be addressed for a grand bargain to be struck (report available here).
The Barriers and Challenges in Obtaining Informed Consent in the Context of Vaccination: Improving the health literacy of patients in relation to medical practices and research is essential for upholding the principle of respect for autonomy - that is, respecting the patient’s ability to make self-governed choices regarding medical interventions or research participation that reflect the patient’s beliefs and values. This report provides a review of informed consent challenges (i.e. ethical gaps, barriers, and priority needs) that are unique to certain vulnerable groups, namely preadolescents, adolescents, and pregnant women, with a specific emphasis on three vaccination cases: the meningitis, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines (report available here).
Legal Barriers to Humanitarian Intervention in Natural Disasters: When a natural disaster strikes, local governments often require immediate assistance in the form of external domestic and foreign humanitarian aid. Most jurisdictions can trigger emergency legislation, such as a declaration of calamity, to lower legal constraints and facilitate the deployment of aid. This report aims to help prepare humanitarian organizations (HOs) prior to humanitarian intervention in a natural disaster as well as serve as a guide to governments and the judiciary in developing laws, policies and regulations to address the legal challenges facing health intervention during disaster relief. It examines the legal barriers to the deployment of medical personnel and the movement of controlled substances in the context of two case studies: (i) a potential catastrophic earthquake in British Columbia (BC), Canada; and, (ii) a retrospective analysis of the 2015 Nepal earthquake (report availabel here).
Reconciling Canada's Legalization of Non-Medical Cannabis with the UN Drug Control Treaties: The Government of Canada is introducing legislation that will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. Canada’s current international legal obligations are incompatible with its plans to legalize the use of non-medical cannabis. This report focuses on how Canada can remain party to the conventions without either withdrawing from the conventions or amending them. We conclude that the scientific purposes exemption provides the strongest grounds for Canada to legalize non-medical cannabis without having to withdraw from the UN drug control conventions. Canada may formulate a scientific research objective for the legalization scheme that aligns with the data collection objective already identified by the Government of Canada and that adheres to the ICJ’s identified criteria (report available here).
In the 2015-2016 academic year, the issues explored by the Clinic include:
Learning from Ebola to Improve Humanitarian Organizations' Legal Preparedness for Future Epidemics: This report provides options for navigating five key issues faced by humanitarian organizations when responding to an epidemic: training, communication of risk, insurance, medical evacuation and reintegration. Options focus on practices that a humanitarian organization ought to adopt when interacting with its employees, since employees are owed a legal duty of care that, when ignored, makes an organization vulnerable to legal action. The options were identified by studying the successes and shortcomings of the Ebola response, and are meant to equip humanitarian organizations with the tools necessary to respond to future epidemics in a way that is efficient and that mitigates their liability (report available here).
Assessing the Political Feasibility of an International Agreement on Antimicrobial Resistance: This report was commissioned by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and focused on the political feasibility of an international agreement on antimicrobial resistance. The major finding was that a comprehensive response to AMR would commit all countries to act simultaneously on access, conservation and innovation. However, such an agreement is not immediately politically feasible without additional incentives and supports; instead a core groups of specialized countries could act to create the basis of an agreement before inviting other countries to join (report available here).
Opportunities for Canada to Improve Global Access to Medicines: The Office of International Affairs for the Health Portfolio (OIA-HP) commissioned the research of four market-level case studies, which focus on innovative financing and collaborative initiatives, and one patient-level case study, which considers international legislation as a model to improve Canada’s purchasing power. This report explores a number of drug development and delivery models for the Canadian government to consider implementing as it looks to improve access to essential medicines both domestically and internationally (report available here).
Using International Instruments to Address Antimicrobial Resistance: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health concern that poses a serious threat to the control of infectious disease. A continuous increase in rates of AMR poses a challenge to the global community and impedes progress previously made in improving health outcomes. This report examines how AMR can be addressed using international instruments, and the appropriate role of theWorld HealthOrganization (WHO) in this task (report available here).
“The Global Strategy Lab is focused on finding practical solutions to the world’s most pressing global health challenges through interdisciplinary research. These student reports are a great example of this approach,” said Lathika Sritharan, GSL’s Research Coordinator and GHLC’s Assistant Director. “Students partnered with organizations to help them identify real-world, evidence-based solutions to the global problems they face.”
“Through the unique opportunity offered by GHLC, my team was able to create valuable work to support our inspiring clients in reaching their goals. This exceptional experience enhanced the learning and professional growth of all involved,” said Natasha Gulati, JD/MBA Candidate.
"Being a student fellow with the Global Health Law Clinic has been an outstanding experience, as it has provided me with the opportunity to contribute to a meaningful project in a complex area of the law. Working with the Canadian Red Cross Society on this project has been immensely rewarding and has reaffirmed the reason that I came to law school,” said Andrew Paterson, JD Candidate.
About the Global Health Law Clinic: The Global Health Law Clinic is an experiential learning opportunity for students to apply their previous studies to real-world global health practice. Students work in teams to provide a United Nations agency, government, or civil society partner with research, analysis and advice on addressing a pressing global health challenge facing them.
About the Global Strategy Lab: The Global Strategy Lab, directed by Professor Steven J. Hoffman, is an interdisciplinary research program based at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law. The Lab brings cutting-edge science and scholarship to bear on how global institutions, instruments and initiatives are designed to better address transnational health threats and social inequalities.