Spring 2012: The Right to Health

Right to Health

"It is my aspiration that health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for."  

~ Kofi Annan

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines "a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being..." as a right for all. According to the World Health organization (WHO) "health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

 This means that the right to health is more than just health care - equally important are general living conditions on which a person's health depends. These include access to clean water; adequate, safe, and nutritious food; shelter; and sanitation. In fact, those most vulnerable to existing and evolving health crises tend to be those who already face poor social and economic conditions (e.g., poverty, unsafe living and working conditions, racial and gender discrimination, etc.). Indeed, inequality and poverty lie at the root of sickness and disease. According to a World Health Report, extreme poverty is the primary cause of death worldwide.And while remarkable improvements have been made in health status worldwide over the last century, these improvements have not been shared equally. Millions continue to die each year from easily preventable diseases and basic health services and essential medicines still fail to reach the majority of the global population. For the underserved, this can be fatal: every day, 22,000 children under age 5 die in the developing world, and on average, 1 woman in 30 will die from pregnancy-related causes.

In honor of World Health Day (April 7th) and National Public Health Week (April 2-8), this edition of Rights Sites News is packed full of lessons, ideas, and resources on teaching about health and human rights both globally and locally, and is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of the right to health for all, especially the world's most vulnerable people.