Health and Human Rights

Study of the synergies between the twin revolutions in big data and associated technology, and health rights operationalisation, focusing on the arising opportunities and challenges.

The last decade has witnessed a revolution in health rights. There is now a growing movement to extend these rights beyond constitutions and treaties, operationalising heath rights to make them meaningful to all. This strand of research addresses how big data and econometric analysis can be used to measure the progressive realisation of health rights and to accelerate their practical delivery. Our research considers whether big data can enhance the accountability of duty-bearers in relation to health rights and what role civil registration and vital statistics play in this regard. It will also contribute to a better understanding of evaluations of human rights-shaped health interventions, questioning the role big data can play in generating evidence of health gains. Finally, this focus area explores the protection of health rights in the data economy and the risks that are posed by big data for the right to health.


Neglecting Human Rights: Accountability, Data and Sustainable Development Goal 3

An examination of Sustainable Development Goal 3 (health) through the lens of State obligations to respect, protect and fulfil people’s human rights entitlements, with a particular focus on monitoring and review.

(Carmel Williams and Paul Hunt, published by the International Journal for Human Rights)

Working Paper - Does Universalization of Health Work?

Evidence from Health Systems Restructuring and Maternal and Child Health in Brazil (2016)

(Sonia Bhalotra, Rudi Rocha and Rodrigo Soares)

Facts, Power and Global Evidence: A New Empire of Truth

(Ann Kelly and Linsey McGoey, published in 47(1) Economy and Society (2018))


  • May172018

    Beyond privacy: the right to health implications of data sharing partnerships in healthcare

    In November 2015, the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust transferred over 1.6 million identifiable patient records to DeepMind, an artificial intelligence…

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  • May152018

    Big Data Can Strengthen UPR Monitoring and Promote Improved Policies

    The UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) operates a five-year cycle for all countries to demonstrate compliance with…

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  • Aug292017

    Big Data and Monitoring Sustainable Development Goal 3: Not Counting Those Left Behind?

    The latest global initiative to address the vast inequalities in the world, including health inequalities, is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable…

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  • Dec142016

    Harnessing Big Data for Patient Empowerment: an Interview with Dr Nathan Lea

    Although Dr Nathan Lea’s professional career focuses on the role and governance of information systems and technology in health, his…

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  • Nov232016

    Big Data and the Right to Health: Explaining Ourselves!

    Editor’s note: This post forms part of a larger series addressing key issues related to human rights, technology and big data.  In…

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Our Partners

Queen Mary University of London
University of Cambridge
Eye Witness Media
FXB Center for Health & Human Rights
Human Rights Data Analysis Group
Universal Rights Group
World Health Organisation
Geneva Academy