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Zoom webinar
  • May 25, 2022 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Join the Division of Clinical Public Health, and the Centre for Global Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, for this webinar on Human Rights and Global Disparities in Access to COVID-19 Vaccines.

Vaccine apartheid has long existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. While mechanisms such as COVAX were set up to mitigate the delayed distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to lower- and middle-income countries, advance purchase agreements, vaccine hoarding, and limitations on domestic manufacturing are among many reasons that equitable distribution goals were not met in 2021. More than two years since the first COVID-19 vaccines were licensed, only half of the population in lower middle-income countries and 22% of individuals in low-income countries have completed a primary dose series. This is in contrast to 73% of individuals in high income countries. These disparities violate fundamental human rights to health and life, undermine the global pandemic response and threaten global health. In this webinar three legal scholars and practitioners will explore the implications of human rights norms and standards for resolving these disparities. They will consider the status and implications of access to medicines as a right; low and middle-income country campaigns for a TRIPS waiver, and the implications of human rights for pharmaceutical companies.


Dr. Lisa Forman is a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Human Rights and Global Health Equity, and Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She is an international human rights law scholar whose research explores how the right to health may contribute to reducing global health inequities. She has published widely in these areas, including in relation to global access to medicines; trade-related intellectual property rights; the Sustainable Development Goals; South African constitutional law; and global health equity. Professor Forman has a BA and LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, and qualified as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa. Her graduate studies include a Masters in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University and a Doctorate in Juridical Science from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law.
Aruna Kashyap is the associate director in the Business and Human Rights division at Human Rights Watch. Her work focuses on corporate accountability and human rights in the global supply chains. She has conducted research in numerous countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Nepal, and spearheaded international and regional advocacy for new regulatory standards governing corporations at the EU, OECD, and ILO. Her research has spanned different areas including labor rights, social protection, violence against women, and access to health care. As a lawyer, she has a background in strategic litigation on economic, social, and cultural rights, commercial contracting, and experience with criminal, contractual and tort law frameworks. She sits on the board of Transparentem. Previously, she litigated in India and got her law degree at the National Law School of India University in Bangalore.
Bruce Porter is the executive director of the Social Rights Advocacy Centre in Canada. He is a leading Canadian and international expert on economic, social and cultural rights and especially the right to housing with a lifelong commitment to working collaboratively with people living in poverty and homelessness. He served as Ontario Human Rights Commissioner (2016-2019), co-represented claimants in critical human rights cases on intersection of poverty and equality rights and co-ordinated interventions in 14 cases at the Supreme Court of Canada raising poverty/social rights issues.

Dr. Ross Upshur, Head, Division of Clinical Public Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Professor at the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Download: Human Rights and Global Disparities in Access to COVID-19 Vaccines poster