On September 22, PHR Sudan Program Fellow Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Abdullah Eisa delivered a lecture titled “Human Rights and Health” at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s School of Public Health in Brooklyn, New York. The lecture was part of the Scholar Rescue Fund’s Hite Chair Scholar Lecture Series, which appointed Dr. Mohammed to be a visiting academic fellow.
Dr. Mohammed is a physician and professor of medicine from el-Fasher University in Darfur, Sudan, where he has worked extensively to treat and rehabilitate victims of torture and sexual violence. In his SUNY lecture, Dr. Mohammed provided graduate students with a broad overview of human rights and the responsibility of the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to victims of both natural and man-made disasters.
Dr. Mohammed summarized the major international human rights treaties, as well as the frequency with which they are violated. He noted that over half of the world’s governments practice torture, and that the vast majority of casualties in armed conflict are typically civilians.
Speaking from his experience treating victims of human rights abuse in Darfur, Dr. Mohammed described the harsh realities of life in Sudan and his efforts to inform the world about conditions in his country. Citing unpublished data from a medical clinic in Darfur, Dr. Mohammed noted that nearly half of the 325 patients treated between 2003 and 2006 had suffered gunshot wounds, and that evidence of sexual abuse was widespread.
Dr. Mohammed told his audience that improving access to education is one of the most effective ways to fight conflict, particularly in places like Darfur, where 70% of children lack access to schooling. Dr. Mohammed ended his talk by calling on the public health students to use their education and positions to increase access to health and education in communities across the globe.