February 6, 2014
Global Health and Human Rights
• Right to health is not the same as the right to be (perfectly) healthy
o If a child is born deaf, does the child have the right to perfect hearing? Cochlear
No; it is an expensive procedure that puts an extra strain on resources
and being deaf is not technically a major restraint on the quality of life—it
can be managed.
o But, does the child have a right to get the information so he/she can lead a
o Skepticism about the human right to health;
Unclear who bears the duty to ensure right to health; concept itself is
Individual rights and access may be prioritized vs. public health/ health
Single issue advocacy may be damaging
How does the approach challenge people’s self-advocacy?
Complicated by the “right to live” and “right to die” debates, and Human
Right to Health action and lawsuits
What happens if the elite choose to fund only the private health system?
What if all our resources go towards curing HIV/AIDS?
• There are fundamental human rights that we as a society should be able to fully realize,
whereas other human rights come from progressive realization.
o Limited resources and funds and often states cannot help you attain certain
human rights coming from progressive realization.
• Human rights and health
o Health is a lot more than the presence of disease;
Human agency view of health; people’s capacity and freedom to lead a
• Right to choose how to act
• Right to adequate conditions and material resources o Consider people’s rights at end-of-life care, their right to
die comfortably rather than their right to be kept alive. How
much resources should be set aside for this?
Right to health; is related to the attainment of other human rights as
described in the International Bill of Human Rights, including the right to
basic needs, education, vocation, access to resources and information,
• Four key elements; availability, accessibility, acceptability, quality.
o What are the most commonly reported issues within these
Availability; sufficient quantity (ie. Consider limited
access of those in rural areas), private enterprises
on the increase, long wait times.
Accessibility; transportation, out-of-pocket
expenses; universal health coverage would make
healthcare affordable and accessible.
Acceptability; discrimination based on gender,
religion, race, etc. that falls into domain of
• Consider women being
discriminated/stigmatized heavier than men
for having an STD.
Quality; issues around evidence-based medicine,
safety issues when coming to receiving care, etc.