Health and human rights
The right to health means that governments must generate conditions in which everyone can be as healthy as possible. Such conditions range from ensuring availability of health services, healthy and safe working conditions, adequate housing, and nutritious food. The right to health does not mean the right to be healthy.
The right to health has been enshrined in international and regional human-rights treaties, as well as national constitutions all over the world.
Examples of UN human-rights treaties:
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), 1966;
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1979;
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989.
- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) in Article 12 states that steps for the realisation of the right to health include those that:
- reduce infant mortality and ensure the healthy development of the child;
- improve environmental and industrial hygiene;
- prevent, treat and control epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases; and
- create conditions to ensure access to health care for all.
- The WHO Constitution enshrines the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.
- The right to health includes access to timely, acceptable, and affordable health care of appropriate quality.
- Yet, about 150 million people globally suffer financial catastrophe annually, and 100 million are pushed below the poverty line as a result of health-care expenditure.
- The right to health means that states must generate conditions in which everyone can be as healthy as possible. It does not mean the right to be healthy.
- Vulnerable and marginalised groups in societies tend to bear an undue proportion of health problems.
Source: World Health Organisation