Jonathan Mann

Dr. Jonathan Mann is best known for his role as the former head of the World Health Organization’s global AIDS program.  He was a key figure in highlighting the need for a global response to the crisis.  During his leadership, the AIDS program became the largest single program in the history of the WHO.  Mann also helped establish the François Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights and directed the launch of the journal Health and Human Rights, published by FXB. Jonathan Mann was a central advocate of combining the synergistic forces of public health, ethics and human rights. He theorized and actively promoted the idea that human health and human rights are integrally and inextricably connected, arguing that these fields overlap in their respective philosophies and objectives to improve health, well-being, and to prevent premature death.  Mann proposed a three-pronged approach that has appropriately acted as a fundamental explanation of the relationship between health and human rights. First, health is a human rights issue. Secondly (and conversely), human rights are a health issue. Human rights violations result in adverse health effects.2 Thirdly, linkages exist between health and human rights (a hypothesis to be rigorously tested).3 Literature substantiates the effects of the first two points, but Mann and colleagues proceeded to call for the validation of the third point and challenged the world to practice it.4 His work led to the development of the Four-Step Impact Assessment, a multi-disciplinary approach of evaluating interdependent and overlapping elements of both disciplines of Human Rights and Public Health.  Dr. James Curran of the Centers for Disease Control said of Mann, “It was always safe for scientists and institutions to think of AIDS as a virus, a transmissible infection… but Dr. Mann structured it as a human rights issue, and a global rights issue. He really was a spiritual leader as well as scientific leader.”

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Filed under Inspirational Individuals, Public Health

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