Framework Convention on Global Health Background Briefing: The Right to Health
The Right to Health
Encompassing FCGH key principles
- o) Define state responsibilities for the health of all its inhabitants on an equal basis, regardless of gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or socioeconomic, migration, disability, disease, or other status, and to promote equality through equity, ensuring equal access to good quality and responsive health services, including by removing financial barriers and ensuring physical accessibility and dignified treatment.
- p) Remove all discrimination and other barriers in law, policy, and practice that undermine the right to health.
x) Strengthen global leadership on the right to health, including that of WHO.
The right to health is already codified through numerous global and regional treaties, most prominently the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (“the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”) (article 12). An analysis of national constitutions adopted through 2011 found that 105 guaranteed everyone the right to health or specifically the right to medical care or public health.1 The right’s principles are detailed most prominently in General Comment 14 of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,2 as since elaborated upon through reports on the UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to health – and related rights such as those on food and on water and sanitation3 – along with general comments and recommendations from other treaty bodies4 and national and regional court cases.
Yet, major gaps and shortcomings exist in both international right to health law as it exists and in its implementation:
1. Clarity of key principles: General Comment 14 and other elucidations of the right to health have gone far towards developing its normative principles. Indeed, many of these – such as equality and non-discrimination, participation in health-related decisions, and accountability – are foundation elements of an FCGH.