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Right Approach for Right to Health

E A Prince


Right to health is an inseparable right to life. Without ensuring right to health, right to life carries no meaning. It is said that the meaning of health is actually understood by those are sick and suffering from ailment.

 The right to health is not independent; rather it is interlinked with many other fundamental and human rights. To realize the right to health, other rights need to be ensured. But without ignoring other social, cultural and economic rights, the right to health cannot the materialized. It is closely correlated with our social, cultural and economic phenomena and other societal factors as well.  

This is categorized with other human rights as economic, social and cultural right in the international human rights instruments. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has included the right in its article 25.  Article 25 (1) categorically stated 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, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or the lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

A plain reading of the article depicts that everyone is entitled to a life standard which is adequate for the health and well-being for himself and for his family as well. Besides, other related rights such as food, clothing, housing and medical care are recognized in this international human rights instrument. Right to get rid of sickness is also recognized within the scope of security. The term security is interpreted in a wider meaning. The traditional interpretation of the term was not meant here to incorporate the right to get rid of sickness etc.

The right of the disabilities, old age, widowhood and other related rights are included to mean the word ‘security’. To ensure these rights, affirmative actions need to be taken by the state authority. Only declining to take negative action is not enough to ensure such kind of rights. State intervention is required for seeing these rights realized.

Right to health and right to get rid from sickness are correlated each other. Right to health for the old age has got importance in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year the right to health for the old age is recognized and the theme of this year is ‘ageing and heath: good health adds life to years.’

Not only is the UDHR, the right to health also recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well.

Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has stated that right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is ensured.

The UN has further extended the interpretation of article 12.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities stated that the persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability.

The people of old age are also considered as the persons with disabilities. Though specifically, persons with disabilities only includes those who are physically handicapped or so. However, the rights of the persons of old age is also there in article 25 of the convention on the persons with disabilities.

Let alone the international legal documents, our constitution has ensured that right in its ‘fundamental principle of state policy’ chapter. Therefore, the right to health will be considered everywhere in framing of policies, laws, regulations etc for the state.

But, the laws, policies and the reality of the health status of the country are contrary to each other. The health of the nation is despondent and need extraordinary care for recovery. The children are born malnourished, mothers are dying for food and people are suffering from hunger.

Most neglected segment of the society is women and old aged persons. The ageing is considered a burden for the nation. They are disregarded in every count in family or in the state.

Considering the odious health reality, the UN has adequately highlighted the theme for the aged people worldwide and it rightfully articulated that good health adds life to years.

The Writer is In-Charge, Law and Human Rights, banglanews24.com

08 Apr 2012   09:13:43 AM   Sunday
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