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Monitoring and reforming laws, regulations & policies

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Monitoring and reforming laws, regulations & policies

Review and reform laws to strengthen access to universal health coverage

Where laws, regulations and policies act as barriers to prevention, treatment, care and support, law review and reform is a critical enabler to increase access to and uptake of health services. The United Nations Development Programmes supports law review and reform through the concerted efforts of all national stakeholders, including understanding and political commitment from government executives and parliamentarians, informed decision-making by an active judiciary, advocacy by civil society organizations and the technical support of development partners.

Case Study Removing legal barriers in Myanmar
Removing legal barriers to access to harm reduction services for people who use drugs in Myanmar

In 2015, Myanmar’s Parliament removed the legal prohibition on possession of needles and syringes in the Excise Act in order to support people who use drugs and to enable health workers to implement needle and syringe exchange programmes. This was one of the ‘quick wins’ endorsed by the joint Parliamentarian and Community Network Consortium Committee on Human Rights and HIV as part of the legal review.

Review of Country Progress in Addressing Legal and Policy Barriers to Universal Access to HIV services in Asia and the Pacific

Case Study Law reform to tax tobacco and alcohol for better health

In 2012, the President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines passed the Sin Tax Reform Law, which taxes tobacco and alcohol. The law reform initiative not only intends to discourage people from tobacco and alcohol consumption – important factors in non-communicable diseases – but also serves to increase resources for health, since the tax revenues are used to finance universal health coverage and better health care.

WHO and UNDP (2016) Non-Communicable Diseases: What Heads of State and Government Need to Know

Law review and reform for adolescent girls and young women

An effective HIV response for AGYW should include efforts to monitor, review and reform all laws, regulations and policies that increase AGYW’s vulnerability to HIV or limit their access to HIV-related health services. These may include:

  • Age of consent laws that make it difficult for AGYW to access sexual and reproductive health services independently of a parent or guardian
  • Health laws and policies that allow for breaches of the confidentiality and privacy rights of AGYW
  • School policies that require pregnant girls to drop out of schools
  • Laws that allow for child marriage
  • Laws that criminalize consensual sexual activity amongst older adolescents
  • Laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sex
  • Laws that criminalize adult sex work
  • Laws that provide for punitive approaches to drug use
  • Laws that provides inadequate protection against harmful gender norms and gender-based violence

Global Fund (2017) Adolescent Girls and Young Women in High-HIV Burden Settings: Technical Brief

Key Resources