The coronavirus pandemic has shown us the many ways laws and regulations can have an impact on our health and our everyday lives: from mandatory quarantines and contact tracing apps, to the availability of vaccines and access to treatment - law is at the heart of all of these health interventions. And where these two fields intersect, a tension can frequently arise between individual rights and the best provision of care. The UvA's new Law Centre for Health & Life (LCHL) aims to generate knowledge through research into the balance in society between health, law and the living environment.
‘Health law and policy needs to be responsive to some of the major health and life challenges of our time. For example, how can we ensure artificial intelligence and tele-health both improve our healthcare and respect our rights? And how can we prevent or mitigate common health threats, such as antimicrobial resistance and climate change? It is our aim to help build a better understanding of how the law can be used as a force for improving citizens’ health,’ explains Anniek de Ruijter, associate professor of Health Law and Policy. De Ruijter will head the LCHL together with co-directors Johan Legemaate, professor of Health Law, and Katrina Perehudoff, senior research fellow.
‘Health challenges cut across disciplines, which is why the LCHL will be taking an interdisciplinary approach,’ says Perehudoff. ‘We will focus on, among other things, the role of law in protecting rights while promoting health. We want to address the power disparities between citizens, the state and the private sector. An example of this being the issue of high drug prices – what are the responsibilities of governments and the pharmaceutical industry, and to what extent are those responsibilities being met?’
Legemaate adds: ‘It is crucial that we work with other disciplines in order to understand when laws and regulations work in favour of health and when they are detrimental to it. Our previous evaluation of Dutch health regulations, commissioned by the Dutch government, is a good example of what can be expected from the LCHL.’
The research results, proposals and recommendations of the Law Centre for Health & Life will be relevant to stakeholders in the fields of science, public health and healthcare, from governments and policy makers to the medical sector, advocacy groups and the general public.
To celebrate its launch, the Centre will be releasing a series of podcasts on issues pertaining to its work. The first edition focuses on the worldwide distribution of corona vaccines.
The Law Centre for Health and Life is part of the UvA’s Amsterdam Law School. In line with its interdisciplinary approach, it will collaborate closely with the Amsterdam UMC, the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, and various other UvA Research Priority Areas. The interdisciplinary approach will also be used in the Master’s programme Health Law.