Reflections on Black History Month 2024

This oil painting depicts a bouquet of off-white roses and greenery in a brown bowl. The round bowl, done in deep brown tones, stands to the right side of the picture. In the bowl are five blooms and several sprays of greenery. Several other blossoms, a sprig of greenery and a long stem lie scattered around the bowl. Peeking from behind the bowl are a pile of darker green leaves and a cluster of bright red berries. Hanging on the left hand background wall is a textile with a yellow, red, and white plaid pattern.

In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson established “Negro History Week,” and fifty years later, President Gerald Ford designated the month of February “Black History Month” in 1976. This year’s theme recognizes the Arts, a recognition of the significant impact of Black arts on US culture. While the arts are essential to our wellbeing, not a frivolous addition, this year’s theme—no doubt selected way in advance—feels out of step with the…

Press Release: Research report analyzes healthcare standards for children deprived of their liberty in effort to support the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Image of black figure of woman bending over and holding hand of small child against barbed wire fence and sunset.

BOSTON, MA – A team of researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne, Australia, the Justice Health Group at Curtin University, and the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University collaborated on identifying, critiquing, and synthesizing current standards for healthcare for children deprived of their liberty in order to shine a light on one of the most neglected areas in the protection…

Press Release: Empirical Study Examines the Impact of State Engagement on Sustaining Local Community Solidarity Towards Distress Migrants

Map of Eastern Europe showing Poland and Ukraine. Poland and Ukraine country names circled in red marker and connected by red dotted line.

BOSTON, MA – The FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, in collaboration with a team of Polish migration researchers from the University of Warsaw, conducted a preliminary empirical study in Poland aiming to document the factors that generate local solidarity towards Ukrainian refugees. The study examines whether generous, well implemented state policies fueled by state actors’ preemptive attention to predictable needs can protect local communities from…

Press Release: New Report Documents the Mental and Physical Harm Experienced by Children in Immigration Detention

Illustration of child behind barbed wire, holding wire with both hands. Art by Allison Arteaga Argumedo

Cover art: Allison Arteaga Argumedo BOSTON, MA – A groundbreaking investigation conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Asylum Clinic at the MGH Center for Global Health, the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, and the Harvard Global Health Institute, in collaboration with RAICES, has exposed the alarming impact of prolonged detention on children’s mental and physical well-being. The study is the first and most comprehensive…

End-of-year message from FXB Director Dr. Mary Bassett

Mary T Bassett

As we approach the year-end, a time when the importance of peace is celebrated around the world, in too many places there is war: Gaza, Ukraine, Myanmar, Sudan, Yemen, Congo, and more. Many receive little global attention, and all have unacceptable numbers of civilian casualties. The world reels at the intensity of the Israeli assault on Gaza. In just over two months, the death toll is approaching 20,000, including 10,000…

The Universal Declaration at 75 – Looking Back and Forward

Jacqueline Bhabha

On December 10th, 2023, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the seminal and aspirational foundation for post World War II human rights principles, will turn 75. At the time of its signing, the Declaration encapsulated the contradictions of a world order in which the signatory states proclaimed “the inherent dignity and…the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” while many still maintained colonies whose peoples were denied…

Commemorating the 2023 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Photo of solitary olive tree among low stone walls at the top of a hill in Palestine. Low mountain slopes with concrete high rises visible in the background.

Sumud, an Arabic word that means steadfastness, has a distinct significance in Palestinian culture. It captures a collective response to chronic adversity and a people’s will to survive, endure, and remain connected to the land. In some ways, sumud intersects with the concept of resilience or the ability to adapt to difficult experiences. The Arabic word, however, carries deeper political meanings of defiance and determination to persevere despite historical erasure.…

Health and Human Rights Journal Announces Amon as Editor-in-Chief

Joseph Amon

Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights and Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, co-publishers of the Health and Human Rights Journal, announced today the appointment of Drexel Professor Joseph Amon, PhD, MSPH, as the journal’s Editor-in-Chief. The Health and Human Rights Journal began publication at Harvard in 1994 under the editorship of Prof. Jonathan Mann, who subsequently became Dean of what would become the…

FXB at APHA 2023: Declining US Health: A population health emergency

Mary T Bassett

Plummeting Life Expectancy Rates for Americans Are a Public Health Emergency! Stephen Bezruchka, MD, MPH, an acclaimed public health expert and author of Inequality Kills Us All, has convened a panel of experts, including FXB Director Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH, to take on this crisis at the upcoming American Public Health Association annual meeting on November 12 in Atlanta. Currently the citizens of more than 40 countries (including some…

FXB Turns 30!

Printed sign in transparent vinyl holder thanking attendees for joining FXB's 30th anniversary celebration next to black tumblers with FXB logo.

This year FXB completes 30 years since its founding in 1993. We are taking a moment to mark this milestone, acknowledge the breadth of activities in our community and the continued importance of work that shows how violation of rights harms health. Our programs, from racial justice to distress migration, to our Roma and Palestine programs, are all connected to the idea that we all need both health and rights as a resource for our lives.…

Inaugural Palestine Social Medicine Course Launched

The 2023 cohort of the inaugural Palestine Social Medicine course standing in front of the statue of a man with a raised fist in Palestine.

The Institute of Community and Public Health (ICPH) at Birzeit University, the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights, and the World Health Organization in the occupied Palestinian territory have launched the Palestine Social Medicine course. This intensive course is part of the activities of the Palestine Program for Health and Human Rights, a partnership between ICPH at Birzeit University and the FXB Center for Health and Human…

Migrant Children in US Detention Again?

Jacqueline Bhabha

The Biden administration is considering reintroducing one of the most infamous anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration – the practice of detaining migrant families, including young children, seeking protection in the US even though they are not charged with any criminal wrong doing. There was a reason why this policy, among the many egregious Trump measures targeting migrants at the Southern border – a border wall, the so-called “Remain in…

Commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Olive groves in the valley just outside Ramallah, Palestine at sunset.

Forty-five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly deemed November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The chosen date was no accident; it came thirty years to the day after the original plan to partition Palestine was adopted by the same United Nations body in 1947. The day is meant to allow time and energy for the international community to show solidarity with Palestinians, acknowledging…

Migration and Refugee Studies: Inaugural Three-week Summer School in Greece

Group photo of the 2022 cohort of summer course on migration and refugee studies in Greece

July 2022 offered Harvard graduate students interested in migration issues a unique experience. From simulations of rescue at sea to a meeting with the Greek Minister for Migration, from academic lectures by lawyers, environmentalists, journalists and emergency doctors to visits to refugee camps and centers for unaccompanied child refugees, students from five different Harvard graduate schools had the opportunity to spend three weeks in July 2022 immersed in an inaugural…

FXB Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Overturning Roe v. Wade

June 24, 2022 — The U.S. Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade today, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion upheld for nearly a half century, no longer exists. The decision means that abortion rights – namely access to safe and essential reproductive health services – will likely be rolled back in nearly half of the states imminently, with more restrictions likely to follow. In response to the decision,…

Project N95, Harvard FXB Center Launch Masks for Communities to Distribute 1m Units of Respiratory Protection

Working with 23 community groups in 10 states Project N95 and Harvard FXB Center will distribute 1m masks to communities in need. Watch our video here National not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) group Project N95, has partnered with the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University to distribute 1 million respirators in local communities at no cost. Working with 23 community groups in 10 states (see list below), the…

FXB Director of Research Prof. Jacqueline Bhabha Provides Insight on Conflict in Ukraine

Jacqueline Bhabha, JD, MSc

“In the past two weeks, 2 million Ukrainian citizens and residents have fled the relentless military violence unleashed on their country by Russian President Putin. Images of innocent civilians forced to flee life-threatening attacks on their homes and communities are all too familiar. In less than a decade we have already witnessed massive forced migration from Syria, Myanmar, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Tigray. Again and again, global publics have been…

Remembering Dr. Paul Farmer

Dr. Farmer

Photo of Dr. Paul Farmer courtesy of Partners in Health The FXB Center is deeply saddened by the untimely death of Dr. Paul Farmer, a visionary global health leader, anthropologist, physician, and Harvard professor. Paul was a close colleague and dear friend to many in the FXB family and served as editor-in-chief of the FXB Center’s flagship publication, the Health and Human Rights Journal, since 2008. In the first issue…

FXB Instructor Calls for Protections for Massachusetts’ Immigrant Community

Picture of Massachusetts State House and Maggie Sullivan headshot

FXB Health and Human Rights Research Fellow Dr. Margaret Sullivan recently submitted written testimony in support of Massachusetts Legislature bills S.1579 and H.2418. The bills are known as the Safe Communities Act and aim protect basic rights and ensure every resident can seek health care, protection and emergency assistance without fear of deportation or detention. Sullivan, an instructor and family nurse practitioner at a community health center, shared her immigrant…

FXB Center Issues Statement on Public Health Harms of Prison and Jail Investment

Today, the FXB Center issued a statement on the public health harms of prison and the carceral system. The statement examines the impact of incarceration on individuals and communities, and offers innovative solutions to break long-term cycles of family instability, homelessness, and underemployment, while fostering intergenerational health and wealth building resources. Read the full statement here. View and download the social media infographics:

FXB Center, University of Athens Launch Joint Program on Migration

The FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, in collaboration with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, and with the support of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece and the United States, is launching a new program on migration and refugee studies in Greece. This partnership was announced today during a virtual event. This partnership begins with a new three-week intensive, interdisciplinary, summer…

FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow Submits Testimony in Support of Rent Control

Masschusetts State House in winter with headshot of Dr. Jourdyn Lawrence

Today, FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow Dr. Jourdyn Lawrence submitted written testimony in support of Massachusetts Legislature bills H.1378/S.886 (An Act Enabling Local Options for Tenant Protections) and H.1440/S.889 (An Act Relative to the Stabilization of Rents and Evictions in Towns and Cities Facing Distress in the Housing Market). The bills aim to establish rent control and increase tenant protections. Lawrence, a social epidemiologist, shared recent research and her…

FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University Joins Project N95 and Boston University To Distribute 20,000 Masks to Massachusetts Community Groups Amid Surging COVID-19 Cases

In response to surging COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights joined national non-profit Project N95 and the Boston University School of Public Health to distribute 20,000 protective masks to high-need areas in the state. The community sites receiving the masks include: La Colaborativa of Chelsea, People Incorporated in Fall River, YWCA Southeastern MA – New Bedford, YMCA Southcoast Swansea – Fall River, SEIU509 and…

New Article Highlights Global Injustices Against Migrant Children

In a new article published in partnership with the University of Oxford, the FXB Center’s Director of Research Prof. Jaqueline Bhabha and FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow Dr. Vasileia Digidiki draw attention to global injustices against the best interests of migrant children. In their original post, the co-authors state: In today’s world, “migration” and “global justice” rarely go hand in hand. Though the COVID 19 pandemic temporarily equalized access…

New Study Examines Variation in COVID-19 Mortality in the US by Race and Ethnicity and Educational Attainment

In a recently released study in JAMA Network Open, Dr. Mary T. Bassett and Dr. Justin Feldman examine “Variation in COVID-19 Mortality in the US by Race and Ethnicity and Educational Attainment.” In the cross-sectional study of 219.1 million adults aged 25 years or older, most racial and ethnic minority populations had higher age-adjusted mortality rates than non-Hispanic White populations, including when comparing within levels of educational attainment. If all…

FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow Joins Coalition to End Racism in Clinical Algorithms

Marie Plaisime Headshot

Dr. Marie Plaisime is among 12 members of the newly-formed Coalition to End Racism in Clinical Algorithms. Read the original press release from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: The Health Department today announced the formation of the Coalition to End Racism in Clinical Algorithms (CERCA). Flowing from the Board of Health’s landmark resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, CERCA was formed to end the inclusion of…

FXB Center Doctoral Student Cohort Member Submits Testimony in Support of Ending Solitary Confinement

Photo of Jasmine Graves and Massachusetts State House

Today, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights doctoral cohort member Jasmine D. Graves submitted written testimony in support of Massachusetts Legislature bills S.1578 and H.2504, which would provide criminal justice reform protections to all prisoners in segregated confinement in Massachusetts. Graves, a public health researcher and social impact strategist, shared her expertise and research on harms of segregated and restrictive housing in correctional settings. Read her submitted testimony: Dear…

FXB Center Joins Public Health & Human Rights for Mass and Cass Coalition; Calls on Boston Mayor Elect to Implement Health-Centered Approach

Graphic containing text of the six policy recommendations from the coalition

Today, as part of the new Public Health & Human Rights for Mass and Cass Coalition, the FXB Center called on Boston Mayor-Elect Michelle Wu to implement a health-centered approach to the intersecting crises at Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue. The area, more commonly known as “Mass. and Cass,” is home to unhoused individuals in need of public health supports and housing. The coalition recommends a six-point plan: Protect…

FXB Center Health and Human Rights Fellow Submits Testimony to Boston City Council

Today, FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow Dr. Jourdyn Lawrence submitted written testimony to the Boston City Council Committee on Civil Rights in support of Docket #0734: Order for a Hearing Regarding Reparations and Their Impact on the Civil Rights of Black Bostonians. In her testimony, Dr. Lawrence shared her expertise and research on reparations and racial inequities. Read her submitted testimony: Dear Members of the Boston City Council Committee…

FXB Center Health and Human Rights Fellow Testifies Before Massachusetts Racial Inequities in Maternal Health Commission

Today, FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow Dr. Brittney Butler testified before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Racial Inequities in Maternal Health Commission. The hearing was a listening session on maternal health efforts and experiences in the Metro West and Central Massachusetts regions. In her testimony, Dr. Butler shared her expertise and research on maternal mortality and morbidity. Read her remarks as prepared for delivery: Dear Members of the Racial Inequities in Maternal…

FXB Center Director to Serve As New York State Health Commissioner; Dr. Natalia Linos Named Acting Director

Headshots of Dr. Mary T. Bassett and Dr. Natalia Linos

Today, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul appointed FXB Center for Health and Human Rights Director Dr. Mary T. Bassett as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health. Dr. Bassett joined the FXB Center in 2018, following four years of service as New York City’s health commissioner. During her time at the FXB Center, Dr. Bassett strengthened the Center’s focus on structural racism both domestically and abroad, including…

FXB Center Announces New Initiative For Racial Justice

The FXB Center today announced a new fellowship program for racial justice in partnership with the JPB Foundation, featuring five new fellows with diverse backgrounds in health and human rights. The announcement came during the virtual symposium “Anti-Racism in Public Health Policies, Practice and Research,” hosted by the FXB Center to launch its new racial justice initiative, which includes research and a series of conversations on racism as a determinant…

FXB Center Launches New Video Series Featuring Leading Health and Human Rights Experts

Harriet A. Washington

A new online video series from the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University highlights eight leading experts whose work and research focuses on a multitude of structural and societal factors that affect health outcomes. “The Intersection” series features interviews with these experts on how the COVID-19 pandemic has realigned health and human rights priorities and focuses on important policies to advance in the next year. “The…

FXB Center Welcomes New Fellows and Staff, Announces Promotions

Coffee mug and employee ID card on desk. Employee ID card reads "welcome aboard:

The FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard is pleased to announce several new hires and promotions. Learn more about our new fellows and staff members: Dr. Brittney N. Butler (she/her) is a social epidemiologist whose primary research seeks document and combat anti-Black racism as a fundamental cause of racial disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality for Black women. Dr. Butler holds a dual academic appointment as an…

Commentary: It’s Time For Boston To Pay Reparations

In recognition of Juneteenth, FXB Center Research Associate Matlin Gilman and FXB Center Director Dr. Mary T. Bassett co-authored an opinion piece highlighting the need for the City of Boston to provide reparations to Black Boston residents. In a commentary published today in Cognoscenti, the authors write: “As we celebrate, we also commit ourselves to an ongoing racial reckoning, a reckoning that must include reparations for nearly 250 years of…

Harvard Chan Perspectives: Why a national ban on menthol cigarettes is the right choice

Photo of cigarette butts in ashtray

Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent announcement that it will take steps to ban menthol cigarettes, FXB Center Director Dr. Mary T. Bassett was interviewed for a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health article. In the article, Bassett — a former smoker herself — describes how the tobacco industry intentionally marketed menthol cigarettes to the Black community, resulting in 45,000 deaths a year. Bassett shared her…

Statement from FXB Center Director Dr. Mary T. Bassett About Derek Chauvin Verdict

BOSTON, MA – In response to former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin being found guilty of murdering George Floyd, FXB Center Director Dr. Mary T. Bassett issued the following statement: “Today’s verdict is an important step for individual accountability and justice. But we are not going to end police violence in court rooms, case by case. The problem of police violence is systemic and radical change to our policies and…

Press Release: New Report Examines Challenges of Migrants In West And Central Africa; Identifies Solutions To Protect Migrants

Screenshot of report cover image

BOSTON, MA – The François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University (FXB Center) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today released “See Migration Like Water: An Analysis of IOM Flow Monitoring Survey Data on Migration Flows in West and Central Africa,” a detailed analysis of migration flows and migrant vulnerability on routes within and from West and Central Africa. The West and Central Africa region…

FXB Center Statement on International Roma Day U.S. House and Senate Resolutions

Graphic recognizing the 50th anniversary for the World Roma Congress

BOSTON, MA – On March 18, 2021, resolutions to celebrate the heritage of Romani Americans were introduced in the House and Senate. The Roma Program at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights welcomes this initiative, which represents a symbol of hope in the recognition of the history, realities, and rights of often marginalized Romani Americans and other Roma people across the world. We are grateful for the tremendous efforts of…

ACLU: 50 Years Into the War on Drugs, Biden-Harris Can Fix the Harm It Created

Image with following text "The need for an equitable and structural response to the overdose crisis is more urgent and critical than ever"

Note: This blog first appeared on the ACLU website on January 6, 2021. The blog mentions From the War on Drugs to Harm Reduction: Imagining A Just Overdose Crisis Response, a new report from the FXB Center, Open Society Foundations and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. By Udi Ofer, Director, Justice Division, ACLU An earlier version of this blog appeared in The Hill. This year marks 50 years since President Richard…

Press Release: National Public Health Experts Urge Biden-Harris Transition Team to End War on Drugs and Lead Coordinated Public Health Response to the Opioid Overdose Crisis

The François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University today urged the Biden-Harris transition team to implement drug policy reforms to curb overdose deaths and address long-standing harms stemming from the multigenerational “War on Drugs” campaign. In collaboration with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Open Society Foundations, the FXB Center sent the Biden-Harris transition team a new report, titled From the War on Drugs to…

Let’s Recover Better By Standing for Human Rights

Human Rights Day is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building the world we want, the need for global solidarity as well as our interconnectedness and shared humanity. Commemorated annually by the United Nations, this year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring human rights are central to recovery efforts, tackling entrenched, systematic…

New Study on Romani American Experience Shines Light on Persistent Inequities and Discrimination

Report infographic

The François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University today released a new study that draws attention to the inequities the Roma diaspora faces in the United States. Published in collaboration with the advocacy nonprofit Voice of Roma, the study, titled Romani Realities in the United States: Breaking the Silence, Challenging the Stereotypes, includes insight from 363 questionnaires with Romani Americans, touching on socioeconomic conditions, stigma, discrimination,…

New Essay Draws Important Parallels Between Public Health and Atrocity Prevention, Systems Designed to Protect From Harm

Cover of Politorbis magazine, #68, issue on Preventing Atrocities

FXB Center for Health and Human Rights Senior Fellow and Harvard T.H. Chan Professor Jennifer Leaning recently compared approaches to prevention and early warning in public health to those for mass atrocity.  Her essay, “Prevention in Public Health and Atrocity:  A Comparative Approach to Early Warning for Early Action,” appears in the latest issue of Politorbis, an official publication of the Swiss Foreign Ministry. As Leaning posits, “An understanding of…

At the Intersection of Human Migration and Climate Change: New Article Puts Out Call to Action

Image of person holding sign that reads, "There is no Planet B"

In a new article published in Current Environmental Health Reports this week, faculty and fellows from the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University examine the complexities at the intersection of human migration and climate change.  As powerfully argued by Drs. Satchit Balsari, Caleb Dresser and Jennifer Leaning in “Climate Change, Migration and Civil Strife,” migration must be anticipated as a certainty, and thereby planned for and supported.…

New Article – Every Body Counts: Measuring Mortality From the COVID-19 Pandemic

A new article, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, examines how relying solely on death certificate data can result in an underestimate of COVID-19 mortality rates, making it difficult to assess the true toll of the pandemic. The article’s authors, FXB Center Fellow Mathew Kiang, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Professors Rafael Irizarry and Caroline Buckee, and FXB Center Fellow Dr. Satchit Balsari, propose ways to…

Study Finds Rate of COVID-19 in Massachusetts Jails and Prisons Is Three Times the General Rate in the State

Info about the figure is in the caption

A recent epidemiological study finds that the rate of COVID-19 for incarcerated individuals in Massachusetts is almost three times that of the state’s general population and five times that of the U.S. general population. As shown in Figure B (caption below), the study also finds that higher rates of decarceration are linked to lower rates of COVID-19. Dr. Monik C. Jiménez, Tori L. Cowger, Dr. Lisa E. Simon, Maya Behn,…

FXB Center Remembers Elaine Wolfensohn

The FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University is sad to announce the passing of Elaine Wolfensohn, who represented her husband Jim Wolfensohn on the FXB Center’s Advisory Committee. For over forty years, Mrs. Wolfensohn was involved in the field of education and arts education while raising her family. Her work in Australia and the United States included teaching in private schools, creating teen tutoring programs in…

Study Finds CDC Population Weighting Distorts Racial/Ethnic Inequities in U.S. COVID-19 Deaths

Table. Percentage Distribution by Race/Ethnicity for COVID-19 Deaths, CDC-NCHS–Weighted Population, and US Census Population and Absolute and Relative Differences Using Data as of May 13, 2020 more detail on content in text

A new research letter in JAMA Network Open argues that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) underestimates the excess burden of COVID-19 deaths among Black, Latinx, and Asian communities by comparing the percentage of U.S. COVID-19 deaths by race/ethnicity with a weighted distribution of U.S. racial/ethnic populations rather than with corresponding U.S. Census data—a distortion that has the potential to affect resource allocation. FXB Center for Health…