Right to Health

Right to Health

Right to health refers to an attainable standard of health care that every human being is entitled to. The genesis of right to health dates back to the creation of World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1946. Prior to the creation of WHO also, the demand for health grew in many countries across the globe and it came to be considered as one of the core aspects of fundamental and human rights. The constitution of WHO defines health broadly as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity and the right to health as the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health”.

Article 25 of the United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 which is treated as the first international declaration of fundamental human rights, states that Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services. The United Nations further defines the right to health in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,1996 that the states parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

In short, the right to health refers to a set of institutional arrangements and conditions that are essential for the realization of the highest attainable standard of health care. In addition to timely and appropriate health care it also includes determinants of health, such as housing, food and nutrition, healthy occupational conditions, water, sanitation, awareness and access to health care. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its General Comment on the right to health, in 2000 set out four criteria to evaluate the right to health; availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of health care services.