Access to Health

The Access to Health Project (ATH) is an interdisciplinary health and human rights project in which students and faculty from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law's Center for International Human Rights (CIHR), the Center for Global Health, the Program in Public Health, the Kellogg School of Management, and the Feinberg School of Medicine work in consultation with marginalized communities across the globe to assess the health needs of the community, and to design a targeted, sustainable approach. ATH has worked with rural communities in the Mopti region of Mali to address female genital cutting, with urban communities in Nigeria on health rights, and with healthcare providers in the Dominican Republic to increase quality of patient service, among others. The project is founded and directed by Professor Juliet Sorensen of Northwestern Law.

Students at the Law School, Feinberg, and Kellogg can join this experiential learning project through the Law School’s Health and Human Rights course. Each year the class is asked to form teams to act as ‘consultants’ to research and innovate a new approach to a common issue based on the feedback from community-based partners. Students from the class may apply to join an in situ health needs assessment, and to incorporate the information from this fieldwork into the final project for their team. Those who have taken the course and wish to continue supporting ATH are encouraged to assist with the projects implemented as a result of their in-class efforts.

Ongoing Projects


In 2017, Access to Health initiated a project to assess the mental health needs of Syrian displaced in Lebanon.


Access to Health began working in Lagos, Nigeria in 2016, initiating a community-led health literacy and health access project. View the Nigeria Project website.


In 2014, Access to Health initiated a number of health interventions – including a radio album and play discussing health - in Douentza, a town in the Mopti region of Mali.

Opioids Roundtable and White Paper

Building on its 2016 Interdisciplinary Symposium on the opioid epidemic, on October 27, 2017, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law hosted an invitational roundtable entitled “Identifying the Metrics of Success in Interdisciplinary Addiction Response.” The roundtable was convened to address the problem of the siloed nature of work in Chicagoland to curb the opioid epidemic. The event brought together a group of 35 actors from the Chicago area across disciplines, including primary care physicians, law enforcement, NGOs, public health officials, and others, to bridge the disconnect and work toward an interdisciplinary approach to cresting the arc of the opioid epidemic. A white paper, largely derived from efforts at the roundtable, followed from that work.

Completed Projects 

Lake Tanganyika

Together with the Environmental Advocacy Center, ATH built an ongoing partnership with the Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic to provide targeted, responsive research. The 2017 ATH team was asked to look at the complex issue of the negative environmental impacts of bed-nets on riverine communities. ATH and the EAC also worked with the Floating Health Clinic to assess the existing hydrocarbons law in the DRC and to propose reforms based on best practices in the area of environment and anti-corruption regulations.

Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kudistan

In 2016, Access to Health worked with Heartland Alliance International to review and research sustainability strategies for an ongoing project to address the high rates of self-immolation through legal and mental health interventions.

Dominican Republic

Guaymate, a town in La Romana Province, Dominican Republic, is the site of the Access to Health Project 2013, in which students partnered with the local public hospital, which serves primarily Haitian migrant workers, to do a patient care and service assessment.


The Access to Health project sent an interdisciplinary team to Bonga, Ethiopia, in September 2011 and March 2012 to identify potential gaps in health care service delivery.


A feasibility study of a nonprofit health clinic in a peri-urban slum of Khartoum was conducted in 2015.