Executive Summary

Just like the other fundamental rights, health care rights are guarded by constitutions and states are obliged to adhere to them. Different constitutions of various countries, including those of WHO and the UN  appreciate health as a fundamental human right. Health care possesses “core content” of fundamental human rights which is its obligation to national task. Its primary role is ensuring essential drugs are availed as and when needed by individuals. Health care has four elements which should be implemented for this right to be successfully practiced, these elements include its acceptability, availability when needed, health care should be of quality and also its accessibility.

Human rights should be universally accepted. According to research; health care cuts across all nations and the UN  enforces policies of the same to all the nations. This means that, it is no longer an option but a fundamental human right which is practiced all over the world. This can be affirmed by the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948’ article 25; which stipulates that; every individual is entitled to an adequate standard of living including his family. It is further stressed by the preface of WHO constitution, which declares health care to be among the fundamental human rights.

The general comment number 14, presented by the UN, affirms “right to health” and gives it more weight thus building on the earlier views about health care as a right.

Although health care is limited in terms of its accessibility and the practical minimum level provided, it is practically one of the fundamental human rights. The major drawback in implementing this fundamental human right has remained to be an unequal distribution of resources and the very high treatment and medicines costs which has seen people or states which are financially stable enjoy this right more than poor countries and individuals.

Introduction

When the topic of health care comes into question, endless debates come into play. Some people believe that health care is a right while others try to argue to the contrary. Many people who do not believe in this fundamental right tend to confuse it with the right to life. While the two are interrelated, they are far much different. The right to life gives an individual the go ahead to support himself using any economic means and his efforts to ensure that he continues to live. This means that; this right does not dictate others to grant him the necessities of life. This further implies that, when someone dies of hunger while the other person is so rich, the rich person will not have interfered with the right to life of the other person since he is not compelled to share what he has with the other one. When people connect healthcare with this type of right, they miss the point since they will argue that, this will dictate how one spends their life or what they have labored for. One thing that remains for sure is that; even though individuals are not compelled to support a life, the right to life still remains one of the fundamental human rights.

As we all know rights do not contradict but rather complement one another and there should be a clear cut between the right to health care and the right to life. To understand this further, we will have a wider view of health care and understand whether or not it is a fundamental human right.

Health care

The most widely known basic needs are food, clothing and shelter. Many will stop here without going into details into what factors play vital role in ensuring these needs are achieved, without them, these needs can not exist. One of these vital players is health care. After understanding the concepts behind this fundamental right, you will learn to appreciate that health care is a human right and a pillar upon which other fundamental rights are pegged.

We all know that, different countries have different standards of health care that they can advance to their citizens; some have very good health facilities while others lack this due to their economic situations which can not afford sophisticated facilities. The bottom line remains, at least there is some basic health care practiced in these countries. We cannot therefore say that health care is not available globally for it to be made a fundamental right, again, the question of availability cannot dictate whether something can be a right or not. Look at a critical example of a nation like the United States.

The United States have advanced in science and medical technology, yet compared to other industrialized nations of the world, it tends to lag behind when it comes to this basic human right which is health. The reason has been that health care has not fully be embraced as a basic human right rather it is viewed as a commodity; this has seen the affluent having absolute right to health while the marginalized and the disadvantaged tend to miss out this essential access to fundamental health care. This shows that, availability cannot be used to determine whether or not a thing can be measured as a right. Availability of a resource cannot bar it from being a right. Even though, health care sometimes may be limited; it still remains a fundamental right which should be enjoyed by everyone.

Key facts about health care as a fundamental human right

It is known globally that not everyone can afford the best health facilities for example kidney transplants and so on; does it mean that the marginalized and the most vulnerable individuals who cannot afford this are exempted from this? Absolutely not, the fact is that, as much as we may want to provide the best health care to everyone, there is a practical level upon which we can provide health care because resources are limited.

It follows therefore that each state must try and come up with reasonable conditions where individuals can attain the desired health standards and be healthy. The conditions include; making available the health services, ensuring there is a safe and healthy working conditions, proper and adequate housing not to mention nutritious foods. It should however be known that; the right to health care does not necessarily mean the same thing as the right of being healthy. There is a global health guardian which ensures states adhere to these basic conditions of health care formulated. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a constitution which dictates the maximum health standard as a fundamental human right.

According to a YouTube video published on 28th June, 2012, it can clearly be seen that States have embraced the idea of offering health care to individuals who cannot afford it; this is supported by a ruling by the supreme courts which was made allowing Palm Beach Atlantic University students to reside on health care plans of their parents (YouTube 1). This makes this right accessible to the students who might not have been able to pay for their own health plans.

Health care as a fundamental right has been preserved in regional as well as international human rights treaties and National constitutions world wide. Examples of such rights by the UN treaties include, the “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), 1966, Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1979” ( WHO 1).

‘The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)’ Article 12 acknowledges the steps needed for the purpose of realization of health rights to be the reduction of infant mortality, ensuring healthy child’s development, improvement in industrial and environmental hygiene, prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, occupational diseases and to create good conditions which ensures there is easy access to fundamental health care (WHO 1). In order to clarify the provisions above, ‘UN committee on economic, Social and Cultural rights’ adopted and came up with what is known as ‘general Comment on the Right to Health care in 2000’,  which stipulates that health care extends beyond appropriate health but also the underlying health determinants like; potable water, adequate food supply, adequate sanitation, nutrition, safe food not to mention adequate housing (Chapman 326).

Healthcare right has four major elements which work hand in hand, and for its implementation, these elements must be provided in full. These four elements include the following.

Accessibility: goods, services and basic health facilities should be made available to as many people as possible. This implies that, in the provision of health care; it should not be discriminating, it should be accessible economically; that is affordable, it should easily be accessed physically and people should also have the right to information regarding the available health facilities.

Quality: health care should be provided in the most appropriate way. The facilities in place should have undergone a scientific test and been approved to be of good quality. This means that, only the prescribed and generally accepted medicines should be used in ensuring health is restored.

Availability: there should be a practical number of public health centers where people can walk in and access this fundamental right. The state should also come up with certain programs which create awareness to individuals regarding the newest trends, threats and even the emergence of deadly diseases that warrants extra caution. This should be done without any form of discrimination. People in the rural or urban areas should both have access to these rights.

Acceptability: health care should not go contrary to the normal ethics, cultures and practices of individuals. They should instead compliment these and ensure they go hand to hand with the life cycle of individuals.

Just like the other fundamental rights, health care rights are guarded by constitutions and states are obliged to make them conform to the above elements. There are also other obligations associated with health care which states must follow, some of which include; respect, one should not by any chance interfere with enjoyment of health care right. You should not do any harm which might prevent anyone from having this right. One can be charged in a court of law due to disrespect of this nature. There should also be protected rights against third parties who may infringe the gratification of health care; governments should ensure that non-state players are regulated. Finally the state has an obligation to fulfill the provisions of health care and ensure people realize the benefits that comes with such provisions.

Health care proves to be a fundamental human right because it possesses“core content” of fundamental human rights which is its obligation to national task. Health care should serve its primary role of ensuring essential drugs are availed as and when needed by individuals (Turshen 127), this is again strengthened by the fact that health care goes hand in hand with the provision of nutritious foods, essential sanitation, safe and portable water.

What is considered a human right may not be applicable worldwide as different states have their own constitutions and their core values which can be considered as rights. It therefore remains that, what is universally accepted as a right is thus very fundamental and should not be at all neglected. Health care cuts across all nations and the UN enforces policies of the same to all the nations. This means that, it is no longer an option but a fundamental human right which is practiced all over the world. According to the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948’ article 25, every individual is entitled to an adequate standard of living including his family. This is further affirmed by the preface of WHO constitution which clearly declares health care to be among the fundamental human rights. These make health care a fundamental human right accepted all over the world and each country is mandated to practice it to the later without any form of discrimination to any of its citizens.

In the year 2000, the UN presented a general comment number 14, “right to health” in an attempt to expand on the original views and ideas which were earlier on formulated. Here the meaning and implication of health care is clearly defined and different NGOs and states are obliged to follow it. It further clarifies healthcare as a fundamental human right and how it should be implemented. Its violation would mean an infringement into human rights and necessary course of action should be taken (Farmer 124).

Conclusion

Although health care is limited in terms of its accessibility vs. the practical minimum level normally provided, it is practically one of the fundamental human rights. Every person is thus entitled to adequate health and his well-being, not to mention other social services which come as secondary to this fundamental right like clothing, food, housing and security.

The major drawback in implementing this fundamental human right has remained to be an unequal distribution of resources and the very high costs of treatment and medicines associated with the same which has seen people or states which are financially stable enjoy this right more than poor countries and individuals.

Order now

Related essays