Interview with Gladys Lavagnino, President of "Dimensiones de Derechos Humanos", association of Buenos Aires in contact with the international network of Cittadinanzattiva, Active Citizenship Network.
1. Ms Lavagnino, you are the president of " Dimensiones de Derechos Humanos", tell us something about yourself and describe your association to our readers:
My name is Gladys Adriana Lavagnino and I am a lawyer with a vast experience on children and adolescents' human rights, achieved through my work with provincial and national institutions. Since 2012 I am the president of " Dimensiones de Derechos Humanos", a non-profit civic association. Our objective, according to its statute, is to promote and foster human rights in Argentina, together with state run agencies and other organizations.
The main feature of the association is the training of "Promoters of Human Rights", through activities at municipal and provincial level in Buenos Aires.
Regarding the right to health seen from an holistic perspective, we launched a project at a primary care clinic, run by a group of local civil society organizations (Sociedad de Fomento) in a municipality in the province of Buenos Aires, where there are also a Provincial Hospital, two private clinics, a healthcare centre, a healthcare unit and an emergency room.
2. What is the situation with patients in Buenos Aires, and in general in Argentina?
Argentina is a federal republic and health is a universal public service provided through a network of efectores comunitarios de atención primaria (places dedicated to primary care such as hospitals, clinics, multipurpose centres, etc.) decentralized and managed at provincial level; it offers a type of cover and management classifiable as a public welfare service through the Fund of social security and insurance (prepagas).
Nowadays, people have difficulty accessing public services for economic reasons since they are unable to pay for health insurance coverage.
For this reason, the free health centres are near to collapse, and the operational capacity of doctors and professionals is limited mainly to the "care of the sick" neglecting the promotion of human rights, despite having being enacted at national level in 2009 with law N.26.529 "Patients Rights in professional care and healthcare services."
Further problems regard the lack of medicines and/or prostheses, and the failure to complete the mandatory health plan on vaccinations.
3. What are the activities carried out by civic associations in Argentina dealing with the protection of patients' rights? How do they operate? What are the main difficulties encountered?
At national level there are few civic associations dealing specifically with the protection of the rights of patients. However, we do know of the existence of activities in the area of complaints/grievances for alleged malpractices in addition to general problems affecting the healthcare system.
There are though a greater number of organizations dedicated to specific situations or conditions, such as HIV, diabetes, celiac disease, and others.
In the communities where we started the project there are new experiences founded on the principles of integrity and promotion of the right to health as a fundamental human right; here, the problems we face are the lack of funds to support the work of professionals, technicians and workers who dedicate both their time and effort, since it is hard even to cover the cost for the materials for the promotion and dissemination to the public and for training.
4. You live in Argentina, how did you come across Cittadinanzattiva and why did you contact us?
In January 2014 I got in contact with the Tribunal for Patients' Rights of Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia. I learnt about their work by spending a day at their headquarters in the Primary Care Server (CAP – Centro de Atención Primario) in the neighborhood of "La Esperanza". I contacted them to see if they could give some advice and support in the implementation of the project we were starting up. From there I got to know Cittadinanzattiva.
5. You are currently organizing "Training Meetings for Promoters of Human Rights": what are they? Whom are they addressed to, and to what end?
The overall objective is to promote the training of community leaders in an organized and systematic way, so that they can become promoters of rights in their communities, putting into practice what they have learnt and replicating their experience with other citizens. This creates a common project which fosters a system of integral protection of rights, able to act as a civic network for the promotion, protection and restoration of human rights violations.
The target groups are civic leaders already recognized as such by the population; the broader target are all those citizens who wish to participate and the institutions which already cooperate with civic networks, such as social, civil society, religious and intermediate organizations, public operators, and others.
Information about the 2013 experience is available on our website: www.dimensionesderechos.org, while at the following link you can download the relevant literature: http://es.scribd.com/doc/236153994/Cronicas-de-Los-Encuentros-de-Formacion-de-Promotores-de-Derechos-Humanos.
6. What activities is your association currently carrying out and what are the ones planned for the near future?
a)Continue in the training of "Promoters of Human Rights".
b)Provide assistance services in places designated for the care of children and adolescents (e.g. homes, day care centres).
c)As I pointed out earlier, we started a project at an outpatient primary care structure. The project is called "Espacio Salud con todo Derecho" with the objective to build, strengthen and spread spaces and practices related to the right to health, sharing and training for real access to all fundamental human rights, which are necessary to ensure the effective enjoyment of the right to health in its broadest sense and the development and taking care of the population. The general objectives of this project, in fact, aim at making the right to health effective and concrete with all rights connected to it, creating spaces and mechanisms within an efector to strengthen universal public policies on health with special attention to taking the responsibility for and the care and development of the population. In addition, the project will promote the networking of public and private stakeholders committed to an effective participation of the population, thus allowing both the individual and collective growth of a community.
7.How do you envisage a collaboration with Cittadinanzattiva?
My organization could enrich its experience by cooperating with Cittadinanzattiva in all the areas in which our project is involved: provide advice for the dissemination to the public, assistance for the development and production of materials and monitoring tools, supervision and evaluation of the project.
Interview by Mariano Votta, Director of Active Citizenship Network News, August 2014
President "Dimensiones de Derechos Humanos", Buenos Aires, Argentina