The Power of Law in Achieving Health and Well-Being

Law Health JusticeThe power of law in achieving health and well-being

As someone who studied psychology, I am interested in human behaviour and how we can change it to improve society. So, I’d like to give my perspective of why the Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH) – a legally binding international treaty – has the potential to change people’s behaviours to help us achieve better health and well-being around the world.

Law is an expression of how we want society to be and, with this in mind, can thus be used as a powerful tool to change culture and behaviour. One could see law as the blueprint for society – the architecture of society and the scaffolding around which living society moulds itself. With such frameworks, we can build better societies where everyone can enjoy scientific and social-political advances. To this end, law is an expression of intent – it is a declaration to say that global civilisation has not yet reached its peak and that there is still so much to achieve; laws can provide what we envision as a better future and how we want to reach it. For example, the idea of an international treaty based on the right to health can slowly change people’s understanding of what norms we want to strive for.

That is not to say that laws are stagnant or perfect. Laws should change with the times. In our globalised world, now more than ever, we need stronger expressions of how we want the world to be. Do we want a world where only a minority of people can access the recent breakthroughs in healthcare? Do we want a world where we value profits over people’s health and well-being? Do we want to live in a world where billions of people are left behind while few enjoy the advances that global civilisation has made over the past centuries?

Law has been, and is still currently, used by powerful actors to cause suffering and hardship; such when limiting the affordability of medicines in some instances. But laws that are formulated with the full participation of citizens – that reflect the real needs of citizens – can be a powerful tool used to enable communities to flourish.

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Turning the Right to Health into the Lived Reality for Everyone

lived realityTurning the Right to Health into the Lived Reality for Everyone: The Framework Convention on Global Health Alliance

Over the past few years, more and more global health luminaries and leading NGOs have called for a Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), for using the strongest instrument of international law to advance the quest for health equity.

In the globalization era, the highest attainable level of health cannot be achieved by States acting on their own. A FCGH treaty would facilitate the coordinated global effort needed to achieve the highest attainable level of health everywhere. It would reform global governance for health to enhance accountability, transparency, and civil society participation and protect the right to health in trade, investment, climate change, and other international regimes, while catalyzing governments to institutionalize the right to health at community through to national levels.

The FCGH Alliance membership includes more than 30 organizations and individuals from Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America, and Europe that believe that unconscionable global and local health inequities are fundamentally unjust.

We know this is an ambitious undertaking, but we are convinced that a FCGH would be a historical shift in global health.

Martin Hevia
Chair, FCGH Alliance

For more information about getting involved, please see the FCGH Alliance website.
For an excellent selection of past articles, publications and other materials, a visit to the FCGH Library is recommended.

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A proud member of the FCGH Alliance

I am a proud member of the Framework Convention for Global Health (FCGH) Alliance, an Alliance dedicated to making the Right to Health real for citizens everywhere. The Alliance is committed to Health for All, for citizens everywhere, in every country, no matter where they live and regardless of their nationality, race and ethnicity, religion or gender and sexual orientation.

The FCGH Alliance believes that no group of persons must ever be deprived of health because of marginalization. We believe that even persons who live in violent, armed-conflict situations and who might be refugees deserve healthcare. We reject the status quo that millions of people cannot access basic health care resulting in gross health inequity such as the vulgar disparity where about 30 countries have life expectancies at birth above 80 years, while at least 20 countries are struggling to stay above 50, where pregnancies are deadly for women in far too many countries and where children in some countries have a poor chance of surviving to be five years old.

It is for this reason we ask you to join us in promoting the FCGH.
(Learn more about becoming  a member)

Dr. Leslie Ramsammy
Vice Chair, FCGH Alliance

Dr. Leslie Ramsammy is the former Minister of Health of Guyana (2001-2012). He served as President of the 61st WHA and as President of the Directing Council of PAHO (2007-2009), among many other executive positions he has held in global health institutions over many decades. He was recently elected Vice Chair of the new international NGO, the FCGH Alliance.

“We are too conservative in our global health standards. A child born in Tanzania should have the same chance of survival and for living a healthy life as a child born in a developed country.”  – Dr. Leslie Ramsammy


Image source: Jambo Mama, NGO, Tanzania