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Zero Discrimination Day: what can the medical publications community do?


  • The Publication Plan marks Zero Discrimination Day.
  • The medical publishing community can use tools such as open access publications and plain language summaries to help reduce health inequities.

Zero Discrimination Day

Zero Discrimination Day, started in 2014 by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and held on 1 March each year, aims to consolidate a worldwide movement for change, focused on ending all forms of discrimination. This year, the theme is ‘remove laws that harm, create laws that empower’, in recognition of the need to combat discriminatory laws. This includes laws that impede citizens’ ‘right to health’, such as those that discriminate based on health status or those that restrict access to health services.

The campaign has consistently shone a light on key issues relating to discrimination and health inequities, highlighting the sometimes complex relationships between them.

Discrimination can directly lead to health inequities, or cause them indirectly via avoidance of health services. Inequities can themselves lead to discrimination.

These issues are pertinent to the global commitment to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, and many have drawn parallels between inequities in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and those observed in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including potential interplays between the two. The Zero Discrimination Day campaign has long called for all countries to deliver on pledges first made in 2015, which will help to:

  • reduce health inequities within and between countries
  • advance the rights of people living with HIV
  • progress the fight against COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics.

As such, we can all seek inspiration from the campaign and challenge ourselves to think about the role we can play in ending discrimination and health inequities. Indeed, the medical publications community, including organisations such as the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) and the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA), has been discussing and taking steps to tackle these issues on several fronts, including:

Today, perhaps we should ask whether medical publishing professionals can do even more to help achieve Zero Discrimination.


Which of these do you think has the biggest positive impact on health inequities?

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