Soosmita Sinha is a distinguished Abusite, International Development consultant and renowned health and human rights lawyer who doubled as a pharmacist.
Soosmita Sinha was born in 05/09/1977. She holds a Pharmacy degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria and a JD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA and is currently licensed as both a pharmacist and lawyer in Michigan, USA. She has lived in four different continents, speaks multiple languages and is passionate about universal access to healthcare.
Her professional experience spans both public and private sectors in different geographical locations – Nigeria, United States and the United Nations in Geneva – and in various capacities – academic, researcher, advocate, volunteer, service provider and currently as a health and human rights lawyer.
Soosmita Sinha has served at various institutions including the World Health Organization, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, Amnesty International, Walgreens, University of Michigan, Duquesne University and Ahmadu Bello University.
She has substantive insight into the healthcare sector complemented with a legal background with emphasis on health, human rights, gender, economics, regulatory and compliance issues.
Her areas of interest include role of civil society organizations in global health governance, health workers as key actors in health system strengthening, impact of global health financing and corruption, and legal and ethical issues at the intersection of healthcare delivery and innovation, including professional liability, data ownership and privacy.
Soosmita Sinha is President of the Health Law Institute (HLI) and a board member at the International Network for Health Workforce Educators. In her spare time, she coaches startups and is happy to share her experiences of founding HLI.
Soosmita Sinha’s passion
She is passionate about the rights of health workers. According to her, Ensuring decent work should not stop at improving recruitment, training, motivation, and retention of the health workforce but be cognizant of the inherent occupational risks of being a health worker.
For starters, we need to acknowledge the discrimination, sometimes culminating into abuse and violence, health workers face during the course of their employment.
The UNAIDS and WHO Agenda for Zero Discrimination in Health Care statement recognizes institutional discrimination perpetrated by co-workers and employers but stops short of specifically recognizing that abuse, violence or discrimination may be perpetrated by patients or their families as well. Many times discrimination is related to the health worker’s gender, race, national or ethnic origin, disabilities, and even health status.
Also, unsafe working conditions – e.g. lack of water and sanitation, lack of retractable needles increasing the potential for needlestick and sharps injuries, lack of personal protective equipment – do not allow health workers to deliver care commensurate with their skills.
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Recently, attacks on health workers have escalated, further adding to already precarious work situations experienced in humanitarian settings. Alarmingly, in some incidences, health workers have been denied access to injured persons or are forced to be complicit in mistreatment and harm. These violate established principles of medical neutrality and contravene the Geneva Conventions.
Therefore, we cannot hope to increase access to health workers or make sustained progress on the right to health without ensuring a basic minimum in safety and working conditions globally.
Further, it makes a strong case for utilizing a rights-based approach to implementing the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: workforce 2030 and the subsequent joint WHO/ILO/OECD five-year action plan for health employment and inclusive economic growth (“Working for Health”).
Besides, how can we hold health workers accountable for their responsibilities if we cannot ensure their rights.