India: Health and Human Rights

"It is one thing to study topics like injustice and rural public health in the classroom; it is an entirely different thing to be able to experience them in the field and to learn firsthand. There is no better way to be immersed in your study abroad experience than with SIT and its amazing teachers and staff. I could not have asked for better exposure or a more well-rounded experience."

-- Laura Kroart, Tufts University

Explore the links between public health and human rights, with a focus on women, children, tribal, and other marginalized and vulnerable populations in India.

This program studies the relationship between human rights and health in a field-study context. Students analyze specific case studies that illuminate the problems, prospects, and potential methods of promoting health. Advocacy efforts for health and human rights on the national and international levels are also examined, along with relevant international declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Topics of study include:

  • The political economy of health (globalization, the WTO, the IMF, and World Bank)
  • "Health" and its relationship to human fulfillment
  • Regional and grassroots approaches to improving access to healthcare
  • Social determinants of health (poverty, oppression, caste, and hierarchy)
  • The meaning of "human rights" in relation to health and state sovereignty

Students spend time at leading local, regional, national, and international institutions, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) India Office, the Population Foundation of India, and the Centre for Health, Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness. Students also spend a week interning with a local organization or individual actively working for public health and positive change in India.

The program includes intensive instruction in Hindi and a ten-week homestay with an Indian host family located near the SIT program center in New Delhi.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Accessing healthcare in India: existing hurdles and challenges
India has the potential to benefit from a huge "population dividend" for the labor force of the future: nearly one-third of its population is under the age of 15. However, this "dividend" is at risk because a majority of India's youth lives in deep poverty. These at-risk children are semi-literate and unskilled and are vulnerable to preventable yet debilitating diseases and fatal infections. Poor public health services further complicate the scenario as young people do not have access to adequate healthcare.

Health indicators show that women fare much worse than men in India. Their health illiteracy and lack of rights, in concert with poor health services, continues to fuel a vicious cycle of disease and premature death. From sex selective abortions to malnourishment, and maternal mortality, female health indices clearly reflect deep socio-cultural discrimination that perpetuates inequitable health outcomes and impairs women's ability to live healthy lives.

Costs Dates



Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: New Delhi

Language Study: Hindi

Prerequisites: None

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)


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