The Lancet released a special report on the right to health on 10 December 2008
International Human Rights Day, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal
Health systems and the right to health: an assessment of 194 countries
Gunilla Backman MSc a , Paul Hunt MJur b, Rajat Khosla LLM b, Camila Jaramillo-Strouss LLM d, Belachew Mekuria Fikre LLM b, Caroline Rumble MBChB b,
David Pevalin PhD c, David Acurio Páez MPH e, Mónica Armijos Pineda MA e, Ariel Frisancho MHPPF f, Duniska Tarco MD g, Mitra Motlagh LLM h, Dana Farcasanu MPH i, Cristian Vladescu PhD j
b Human Rights Centre,
c School of Health and Human Sciences,
d Office of the Mayor of
e Foundation for Alterative Social Development,
f Health Team National Coordinator, CARE Peru,
g National Health Council Secretariat, Ministry of Health,
h WHO-Western Pacific Regional Office,
i Centre of Health Policies and Services,
j Department of Public Health,
Website: www.thelancet.com [subscription required]
“…….60 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights laid the foundations for the right to the highest attainable standard of health. This right is central to the creation of equitable health systems. We identify some of the right-to-health features of health systems, such as a comprehensive national health plan, and propose 72 indicators that reflect some of these features.
We collect globally processed data on these indicators for 194 countries and national data for
Where they are available, the indicators show where health systems need to be improved to better realise the right to health. We provide recommendations for governments, international bodies, civil-society organisations, and other institutions and suggest that these indicators and data, although not perfect, provide a basis for the monitoring of health systems and the progressive realisation of the right to health. Right-to-health features are not just good management, justice, or humanitarianism, they are obligations under human-rights law….”
Comment Dec 10, 2008
Right to health and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The right to health is a fundamental part of our human rights and of our understanding of a life in dignity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights1 enshrines a vision that requires taking all human rights—civil, political, economic, social, or cultural—as an indivisible and organic whole, inseparable and interdependent, and all of equal importance. Economic, social, and cultural rights cannot be fully achieved where civil and political rights are curtailed, and civil and political rights cannot be fully exercised where economic, social, and cultural rights are neglected.
Comment Dec 10, 2008
Why and how is health a human right?
In doing a special issue on the right to health, The Lancet is helping to draw attention to an extraordinarily important subject that does not get as much attention as it deserves. There are understandable reasons why the perspective of the right to health seems to many to be remote. First, there is what we might call the legal question: how can health be a right since there is no binding legislation demanding just that? Second, there is the feasibility question: how can the state of being in good health be a right, when there is no way of ensuring that everyone does have good health? Third, there is the policy question: why think of health, rather than health care, as a right, since health care is under the control of policy making, not the actual state of health of the people?
Comment Dec 10, 2008
Rights-based approaches to improve people's health in
Peru is challenged by poverty, discrimination, and inequity, including starkly different morbidity and mortality rates and a high prevalence of avoidable illnesses and deaths in people who are poor, indigenous populations, and excluded groups.1,2 Raising the importance of the right to health as a core obligation to be fulfilled and implementing rights-based approaches within health-sector development in Peru has proven helpful to tackle these challenges. Rights-based approaches, and their principles of inclusion, participation, and fulfilment of obligation, tackle the underlying causes of poverty and disadvantage, and work in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders to address these causes.
Dec 10, 2008
Gender equality and the right to health
Expanding access to health is fundamental to human security and human rights. People who are poor daily face health-related insecurity, from food shortages to limited access to drinkable water, physical violence, or ignorance about disease prevention. In our globalised world, the transnational flows of ideas, people, and new lifestyles, but also diseases, have created new challenges for those who are already left behind in the journey of human development. The vast majority of them are women.
Editorial Dec 10, 2008
The right to health: from rhetoric to reality
Human Rights Day on Dec 10 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). A year ago, in the run up to this important milestone, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a campaign that aimed to increase knowledge and awareness of human rights. During the course of the year, many governments and educational, cultural, and human rights institutions have reaffirmed their commitment to the values and principles of the UDHR. The health sector has been strikingly silent, which is tremendously disappointing given that the foundation for the right to health is laid out in this historic document
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