Health and human rights -Human Rights Day

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Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day. 

“Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.”
http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/
The right to the highest attainable standard of health” requires a set of social criteria that is conducive to the health of all people, including the availability of health services, safe working conditions, adequate housing and nutritious foods. Achieving the right to health is closely related to that of other human rights, including the right to food, housing, work, education, non-discrimination, access to information, and participation.

The right to health includes both freedoms and entitlements. 

  • Freedoms include the right to control one’s health and body (e.g. sexual and reproductive rights) and to be free from interference (e.g. free from torture and from non-consensual medical treatment and experimentation).
  • Entitlements include the right to a system of health protection that gives everyone an equal opportunity to enjoy the highest attainable level of health.

Health policies and programmes have the ability to either promote or violate human rights, including the right to health, depending on the way they are designed or implemented. Taking steps to respect and protect human rights upholds the health sector’s responsibility to address everyone’s health.

Key facts

  • 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 100 million people globally are pushed below the poverty line as a result of health care expenditure ever year.
  • Vulnerable and marginalized groups in societies tend to bear an undue proportion of health problems.
  • Universal health coverage is a means to promote the right to health.

Human rights-based approaches
A human rights-based approach to health provides strategies and solutions to address and rectify inequalities, discriminatory practices and unjust power relations, which are often at the heart of inequitable health outcomes.
The goal of a human rights-based approach is that all health policies, strategies and programmes are designed with the objective of progressively improving the enjoyment of all people to the right to health. Interventions to reach this objective adhere to rigorous principles and standards, including:

  1. Non-discrimination: The principle of non-discrimination seeks ‘…to guarantee that human rights are exercised without discrimination of any kind based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status such as disability, age, marital and family status, sexual orientation and gender identity, health status, place of residence, economic and social situation’1.
  2. Availability: A sufficient quantity of functioning public health and health care facilities, goods and services, as well as programmes.
  3. Accessibility: Health facilities, goods and services accessible to everyone. Accessibility has 4 overlapping dimensions:

  • non-discrimination
  • physical accessibility;
  • economical accessibility (affordability);
  • information accessibility.

4. Acceptability: All health facilities, goods and services must be respectful of medical ethics and culturally appropriate as well as sensitive to gender and life-cycle requirements.

5. Quality: Health facilities, goods and services must be scientifically and medically appropriate and of good quality.
6. Accountability: States and other duty-bearers are answerable for the observance of human rights. Universality: Human rights are universal and inalienable. All people everywhere in the world are entitled to them.
Policies and programmes are designed to be responsive to the needs of the population as a result of established accountability. A human rights based-approach identifies relationships in order to empower people to claim their rights and encourage policy makers and service providers to meet their obligations in creating more responsive health systems.
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Sagun's Blog is a Public Health Information sharing platform created by Sagun Paudel. The main purpose of this blog is to share public health updates.

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