Right to Health

Right to Health
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that the right to life is one of our inherent rights as human beings. It stands to follow that as part of that, we have the right to health. The right to health encompasses many different things which create a minimum standard for our good health. It becomes complicated to define good health as one takes into consideration various factors, such as what defines good health in the first place, who is responsible for the health of the people, what the people are entitled to receive in their pursuit of good health, and so on.

There are many documents which list the right to health as an inherent human right, such as the World Health Organization Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These documents stress the importance of getting people the medical attention they need in a dignified, timely, proper manner.

There are some who would argue that health is not an inherent right. Some argue that it’s too difficult to define what health really means, therefore, how can you measure it and protect it? Some are focused on the fact that it’s difficult to say whose responsibility it is to ensure everyone’s good health. Others get hung up on the term “right,” as they see rights as things to protect at all costs, and they wonder if health is something that truly belongs in that category. Another criticism of health as a human right is that it simply could never be realized. Some scholars have done personal calculations and according to their personal findings, it’s impossible to ensure this service to everyone in the world.

Although those against health as a human right may raise some practical points to consider, that doesn’t erase the fact that every human being in the world is entitled to life, and, closely tied to that, good health. The points brought up by critics can be addressed by activists and lawmakers working together to create policies that ensure that no one gets left behind when it comes to health.


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