Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Last year, the UMass Law faculty approved the creation of a Human Rights at Home Clinic. The clinic will open this coming spring semester.
Over the course of the past 18 months, myself and two colleagues (one from the Nursing School at UMass Dartmouth and one from the law school) have interviewed individuals from our community who are living with HIV. Our interviews are open ended. We want to know which of the individuals' needs are not being met.
While the study has not closed and our results have not been analyzed, anecdotally I am struck by how often lack of adequate
transportation has been mentioned as an impediment to good health and independence. Inadequate transportation impedes those dependent upon public transportation from developing to their potential. Transportation that does not run frequently or on schedule limits the ability to obtain and retain work. In addition, adequate health care can be interrupted if appointments cannot be kept due to inability to keep appointments.
As a social determinant of health, transportation is the link that can result in adequate treatment or lead to deteriorating conditions if access to treatment is denied due to the individuals inability to access care easily.
Transportation as a human right has been a concern over the past five years as more and more cities limit the hours that transportation operates as a budget saving measure. "Transportation equity is a civil and human rights priority. Access to affordable and reliable transportation widens opportunity and is essential to addressing poverty, unemployment, and other equal opportunity goals such as access to good schools and health care services."
This spring the UMass students will conduct a study of the transportation systems in local communities. I would like to hear from any others who have been involved in similar studies or who are contemplating conducting studies of their own.