Appropriate and effective use of law and policy, both as legislated and implemented, is vital in addressing various aspects of social justice, including inequities in health. A salient illustration is the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which was most effectively countered through key public health and social interventions, supported by evidence-informed and rational deployment of legislation, enforcement and policy guidance. This use of the law is grounded in the knowledge that empowering those who are most vulnerable is the most effective way to stem the spread of HIV.
The Centre for Health Equity Law & Policy (C-HELP) is an initiative that takes these lessons and applies and adapts them across other health contexts and priorities. It also aims to use law in conjunction with other disciplines – economics, sociology, anthropology, public health, communication, governance etc. – to find holistic and systemic solutions to inequities in health.
In its essence C-HELP aims to contribute to health and wellbeing that is achievable for all, using law as a critical paradigm through which this social good can be attained. It is committed to humanist and inclusive social justice approaches that are founded on the imperatives of accountability, quality, accessibility, affordability and fairness. It is moored in the vision of a society that reaches its full potential by achieving a meaningful right to health for every person and community, informed by evidence on what works to serve individual and collective health goals.
C-HELP is helmed and staffed by legal experts who have vast experience in working at the intersections of health, law and policy in India and globally, including on extensive research projects, trainings and capacity enhancement of various health-related stakeholders, drafting legislation, litigating seminal cases, engaging with civil society, advising governments, and managing large-scale global initiatives.
Vivek Divan is Coordinator of the centre. His expertise for over two decades has been at the intersections of law, health and sexuality with particular focus on HIV, TB and LGBTQ concerns. He has worked both nationally and internationally on these issues, including leading efforts to challenge section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, drafting a Bill that became India’s HIV/AIDS Act in 2017, building capacity on patent law and access to medicines, serving as member of the Secretariat and Technical Advisory Group of the Global Commission on HIV & the Law, and co-authoring the Legal Environment Assessment on TB in India. He has participated as an expert advisor and speaker at various national and international fora, and has published widely. He obtained his law degree from NLSIU, Bangalore, and an LL.M. from Cornell University.
Shefali Malhotra is a research consultant with C-HELP. Her research focuses on the politics and governance of emerging health technologies in India. In 2020, she completed her post-graduation in political science at the Leiden University, Netherlands. Prior to this, her research focussed on health financing and health policy regulation in India. In 2010, she received a bachelor's degree in law from Symbiosis Law School, Pune.
Shivangi Rai is the Deputy Coordinator of C-HELP. She has 15 years’ experience in research, advocacy, capacity building, litigation and law & policy development in instilling a ‘right to health’ framework in health laws, policies and programmes. At Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit, she worked on HIV, TB, access to treatment, patents, LGBT issues (including constitutional challenge to Sec. 377), gender, sex work and drug use, from a health and human rights perspective. From 2015-20, at NHSRC, a technical body under MoHFW, she led drafting of several bills – National Public Health Bill, Digital Information Security in Healthcare Bill and on human milk banking. She also drafted the National Policy on Treatment of Rare Diseases in 2018, and guidelines on mental health and palliative care services within primary health care. Shivangi graduated from ILS Law College,Pune and holds an LL.M. from Warwick University, UK.
Suraj Sanap is a Research Consultant with C-HELP. His work focused on constitutional law, gender and sexuality, HIV/AIDS and labour through research, advocacy and litigation at Lawyers Collective. He has experience in working on the challenge to the anti-sodomy law, offering legal support to queer communities in South East Asia and Africa and working with trans, queer and PLHIV communities on drafting rights-based laws in India. He graduated from Government Law College, Mumbai in 2013.
Research and Advocacy Officer
Gargi Mishra is a Research and Advocacy Officer at C-HELP. She has research and advocacy experience on issues of gender, health, law and rights. She has worked with Sama Resource Group for Women and Health in Delhi, where she led research and capacity-building efforts on mental health, surrogacy and infertility. At Lawyers Collective Women's Rights Initiative, she provided legal aid, and conducted litigation and advocacy on law and policy reform on sexual and domestic violence. She has also worked on child education and juvenile justice with civil society organisations in Delhi and Hyderabad. Gargi graduated from National Law University Jodhpur and has an LL.M. from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.