in what sense is health a human right?

To preserve these benefits, insurance is available to those who can afford it, vitiating the real right to health. While most human rights are theoretically framed as negative rights, meaning that they are areas where society cannot interfere or restrict through political action, Mervyn Susser argues that the right to health is a particularly unique and challenging right because it is often expressed as a positive right, where society has an obligation to provide certain resources and opportunities to the general population. Since the for-profit private health care sector cannot do this, and the prices it charges decimate its prosperity, it is time for the citizens of New Hampshire to declare that health care is a right for all with their words and their votes. We should all agree on the basic goal of health care: that everyone gets it when they need it.

Attempting to provide beneficial healthcare to all people using limited resources could lead to economic collapse. Philip Barlow writes that healthcare should not be considered a human right because of the difficulty of defining what it entails and where the "minimum level" of entitlement under the right should be set. And the worst part of these stories is that they were enrolled in insurance but could not get the health care they needed. While Susser's discussion focuses on healthcare as a positive right, Paul Hunt refutes this view and argues that the right to health also encompasses certain negative rights, such as protection against discrimination and the right not to receive medical treatment without the voluntary consent of the recipient.

This means that the realisation of the right to health is both fundamental and dependent on the realisation of other human rights, to food, housing, work, education, information and participation. In 2002, the Human Rights Council created the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. These populations may also be subject to laws and policies that further marginalise them and hinder their access to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and health care services. We remain the only developed nation that neglects the need for automatic, accessible, universal and affordable health care.

The right to health is universally recognised as fundamental to human dignity, freedom and well-being.

Erika Ossenfort
Erika Ossenfort

Hipster-friendly food fan. Professional pop culture advocate. Freelance internet ninja. Devoted web fan. Extreme music evangelist.

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