Health and Rights
The Open Society Foundations work to ensure that all people have access to health and human rights.
2019 Health and Rights Budget by Region
In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Open Society Foundations supported efforts to strengthen health services in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, including work to contain HIV and tuberculosis.
Today, we work across the globe to fight discrimination and abuse in health settings and to support communities that receive substandard care or face barriers to services because of who they are—including Roma and other minorities, transgender and intersex people, people with intellectual disabilities or experience of mental health problems, sex workers, people who use drugs, and migrants and refugees.
Our work seeks to advance an inclusive vision of health as a public good. That means that health care is available to all, laws and policies governing health are transparent and democratically accountable, and medical innovation delivers solutions that are accessible to everyone, from affordable medicines to palliative care.
The Open Society Foundations have been a strong advocate for the rights of people with mental disabilities. This has included successfully arguing for the provision of support and care in a community context, and working for the closure of large, dehumanizing institutions.
Our Early Childhood and Public Health programs are funding Roma Healthy Start, an initiative aimed at improving prenatal and early childhood care for Roma mothers and babies. The effort seeks to reduce infant mortality and to address developmental challenges by taking a comprehensive approach to caring for pregnant women and their families.
Open Society has been advocating for the provision of palliative and end-of-life care since the 1990s. Today, this work includes not only working to ensure access to adequate pain relief, but also efforts to provide relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness—improving quality of life for both the patient and the family.
Together with our foundations, our Public Health and Global Drug Policy programs advocate for drug policy focused on public health and safety, rather than punishment. We support approaches that do not require cessation of drug use as a precondition of support, including advocacy for needle and syringe programs to prevent the spread of HIV, and medically supervised injection facilities to reduce overdose deaths.
Our efforts to ensure access to health care for all includes funding the training of paralegals who help excluded communities and individuals to negotiate bureaucratic barriers to care—helping Roma families in the Western Balkans, for example, to obtain the identity documentation they need to obtain treatment at local hospitals.
Keep Families Together
We Must Not Forget the Children of the Incarcerated
As a new report shows, draconian anti-drug policies in Latin America don’t just harm people who use or sell substances; they harm the children and families of the incarcerated, too. Thankfully, there’s a better way.
Albinism in Africa In Depth
“We Are Tired of Being Ignored”
Following a brutal murder in Mali, one of Africa’s most celebrated artists helped rally a movement to defend the rights of people with albinism, and organized a defiant musical festival unlike anything the world had ever seen.
Valuing Lived Experience
The Need for a Human Rights-Based Approach to Global Mental Health
A growing body of research shows that Western models of mental health don’t work for everyone. When it comes to care or policy, policymakers should first listen to those with lived experience of mental health challenges.