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Law PhD Graduate’s Research Provides Critical Insight in HIV-Related Legislation

April 19, 2017

Dr Patrick Eba celebrating his achievement with his father and renowned Ivorian surgeon Dr Eba Manlan Etienne.

As a Senior Human Rights and Law Adviser at the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) based in Geneva, Switzerland, PhD graduate Dr Patrick Eba will utilise insights gained from his doctoral experience to support better law-making on HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and globally.

‘My current work involves a lot of research and writing on health and HIV-related legal and human rights issues. In this line of work, having an academic qualification that demonstrates your expertise is an asset. I hope that the degree will also provide me with further career opportunities in my current line of work or in other areas of the Law and human rights,’ said Eba.

Eba’s thesis titled: “Righting Laws: An appraisal of human rights in the context of HIV and their applicability to the normative content and implementation of HIV-specific laws in sub-Saharan Africa” offers the first ever comprehensive review of the normative content and implementation challenges in the 27 HIV-specific laws that have been adopted in sub-Saharan Africa in the past decade.

According to Eba, the study supervised by Dr Ann Strode shows that these HIV-specific laws provide only limited protection to people living with HIV and those vulnerable to the epidemic, and that most of these laws use punitive approaches.

‘The thesis also demonstrates that many challenges to the implementation of HIV-specific laws are due to their inadequate content. It concludes with recommendations for developing “smarter legislation” in the context of HIV that are based on human rights norms and public health evidence and that address key technical, political and participatory issues to enable their effective implementation. Overall, it is a critical reminder of the importance of human rights for effective responses to HIV and other health challenges like Ebola,’ he said.

The quality of this ground-breaking research has resulted in chapters being published in several peer-reviewed journals.

A chapter analysing the composition, mandate, powers and case law of the HIV tribunal of Kenya was published by the Health and Human Rights Law Journal; while commentary on Ebola and Human Rights in Africa was published in The Lancet.

An article published in Reproductive Health Matters summarises recommendations from the thesis to guide better law-making on HIV and health.

‘This article on the HIV tribunal of Kenya was referred to as a key source by researchers and policy makers aiming to understand the work of this tribunal which is the only HIV-specific judicial body in the world,’ said Eba.

‘Similarly, the commentary on Ebola and Human Rights in Africa is referred to as a key source on the human rights challenges raised during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2015.

‘Finally, findings from the research were also presented during the 18th International AIDS Conference held in Durban in July last year,’ said Eba.

Eba added that he was grateful to his family, colleagues and friends for their support during the challenging three years which required him to balance family responsibilities, employment and his studies. 

Thandiwe Jumo

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