About the Right to Health
Central to IFHHRO’s work is the concept of the Right to Health. IFHHRO believes that health professionals and their associations have an important role to play in the monitoring and promotion of this right.
The Right to Health is short for ‘the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’, a phrase coined by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to ensure all people equal access to health care and health-related services (e.g., clean drinking water), within the limits of a State’s capacity.
General Comment No. 14
In May 2000, CESCR published General Comment No. 14, which provided a detailed description of the obligations of States to secure the Right to Health, as well as criteria for monitoring this right.
General Comment No. 14 strengthens the basic principle that the accessibility, availability and affordability of health care of good quality is an inalienable right for all. In the 21st Century, the Right to Health is a right, not just a service and not a charity, commodity or a privilege. Absence of available, accessible and affordable health care and underlying preconditions of health is thus not an absence of service, but a violation of a basic human right.
Recognizing that there is a Right to Health implies that governments have obligations, both with regard to medical services and to other aspects of life that determine health, such as clean drinking water and adequate sanitation, or protection against environmental and occupational hazards. It also implies that individuals and groups can hold their governments accountable for not taking progressive measures to comply with these obligations.
Since 2002, there is a UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, who oversees the progress made by governments in realizing the Right to Health.