Festschrift: Professor Jenkins

Attaining human dignity for people with birth defects: A historical perspective

Arnold L Christianson


People with birth defects have been stigmatised, marginalised and discriminated against for millennia, diminishing their human dignity and abrogating their human rights. Beginning with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, promulgated in 1947, the circumstances in which human dignity in healthcare for people with birth defects could be achieved arose, and this was accomplished over the next 65 years through the insight, hard work and dedication of a select group of people and organisations. In 2010 the World Health Organization prioritised services for the care and prevention of birth defects, particularly in middle- and low-income countries. Translating what has been achieved into human rights in healthcare for people with birth defects is the next objective. 

Author's affiliations

Arnold L Christianson, Division of Human Genetics, National Health Laboratory Service and University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Full Text



birth defects; medical genetic services; human dignity; human rights; festschrift; Trefor Jenkins; human genetics

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2013;103(12):1014-1019. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.7277

Article History

Date submitted: 2013-07-16
Date published: 2013-10-11

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